Man who killed four members of Muslim family in London, Ont., to be sentenced today

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Published February 22, 2024 at 6:25 am

Veltman's attack on Muslim family in London, Ontario, was terrorism: judge

A man who killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., is set to be sentenced today.

Nathaniel Veltman, 23, was found guilty in November of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk on June 6, 2021.

First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, but the sentence for attempted murder can vary, with a maximum of life behind bars.

Justice Renee Pomerance is also expected to rule on whether Veltman’s attack amounted to terrorism.

Prosecutors have argued Veltman was a white supremacist with a plan to commit violence, while the defence argued his actions shouldn’t be considered terrorism because he kept his beliefs to himself.

The case was the first time Canada’s terrorism laws were put before a jury in a first-degree murder trial.

Veltman was convicted of killing 46-year-old Salman Afzaal; his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal. The couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously hurt but survived.

During the trial, Veltman testified he had been considering using his pickup truck to carry out an attack and felt an “urge” to hit the Afzaal family after seeing them walking on a sidewalk. He said he knew they were Muslims from the clothes they were wearing and he noticed the man in the group had a beard.

The jury also watched video of Veltman telling a detective his attack had been motivated by white nationalist beliefs, and heard he wrote a manifesto where he described himself as a white supremacist in the weeks before the attack.

At a sentencing hearing last month, Veltman apologized for the pain he had caused.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my regret for the loss of the Afzaal family,” he told the court. “I’m sorry for this pain and suffering that I caused. I cannot turn back time.”

The apology was promptly rejected by the victims’ family outside of court.

“These are strategic words coming from a killer after he is convicted. He could have chosen any time to apologize, but to do it just before sentencing, so it can be entered in the record as an apology is a checkbox … for the parole board. This is not an apology. This is strategy,” Madiha Salman’s uncle, Ali Islam, said on behalf of the family.

Pomerance told jurors during the trial that they could convict Veltman of first-degree murder if they unanimously agreed the Crown established he intended to kill the victims, and planned and deliberated his attack.

She said they could also reach that same verdict if they found that the killings were terrorist activity.

The terror component wasn’t a separate charge, and juries don’t explain how they reach their verdict, so it’s unclear what role – if any – the terror allegations played in their decision.

Veltman’s trial was held in Windsor, Ont., but the sentencing proceedings are taking place in London.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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