Witnesses and relatives of Toronto van murders describe the devastation caused by the attack | Pickup incident in Toronto
A Toronto court has heard devastating accounts from witnesses, victims and relatives of those killed in the 2018 van attack in which a self-proclaimed “incel” drove his vehicle onto a crowded sidewalk.
Alek Minassian – who was motivated by hatred of women – was found guilty in March of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, after a judge found he had been driving a van white car on the sidewalk with the intent to kill.
During a sentencing hearing on Monday, a Toronto court heard testimony from those involved. Witnesses recounted the horror of the attack and their struggles with PTSD afterwards.
“My world has changed forever,” said Janet Zhang, after describing the mental pain she still experiences after her CPR efforts failed to save a victim.
First responder Charlene Mackay told the court she still has panic triggers and night terrors, which she manages by drinking and not eating well. “I don’t think he should have a normal life,” she said of Minassian.
Other victims detailed the serious and life-altering injuries they suffered in the attack, which they continue to struggle with.
Minassian’s actions cost the lives of Renuka Amarasingha, Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, Dorothy Sewell, Anne Marie D’Amico, So He Chung, Andrea Bradden, Chul Min “Eddie” Kang, Geraldine Brady and Munir Najjar.
An 11th person – Amaresh Tesfamariam – died from his injuries in October 2021. Minassian was not given an additional murder charge.
The Crown is asking that Minassian be sentenced to 10 life sentences – to be served concurrently – with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
The sentencing recommendation follows the Supreme Court of Canada‘s ruling last month, which found that consecutive periods of parole ineligibility were unconstitutional and should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
The decision came after a legal challenge by Alexandre Bissonnette, the man convicted of six murders and six attempted murders in the 2017 Quebec City mosque shootings.
In his original conviction, Bissonnette’s parole ineligibility sentences were added consecutively, totaling 150 years – meaning he would die in prison.
Following the Supreme Court ruling in May 2022, he is now eligible for parole after 25 years.
Based on this decision, so will Minassian.
Judge Anne Malloy – the judge who oversaw the Toronto van bombing trial – delayed Minassian’s sentencing pending the Supreme Court’s decision.