Toronto van attacker sentenced to life in prison

Police officers wait for a search warrant in front of the home of Alek Minassian in Richmond Hill
Police officers wait for a search warrant in front of the home of Alek Minassian, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Saul Porto

TORONTO, June 13 (Reuters) - A man who plowed a rented van into dozens of people on a busy Toronto street in 2018, killing 11, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

Alek Minassian, 29, was found guilty last year of murdering 10 people and attempting to murder 16. One of the 16 later died in connection with injuries she suffered in the attack and a judge said on Monday she considered the woman the 11th murder victim.

Minassian's sentencing was delayed pending a Supreme Court case on another matter to determine the constitutionality of consecutive parole ineligibility periods.

Serving multiple life sentences concurrently, Minassian will be eligible for parole in 25 years but may not get it.

Justice Anne Molloy said she was sending statements from victims of their ordeal and transcripts of the sentencing hearing to correctional officials so that they could be taken into account when Minassian applies for parole.

Minassian told police he was motivated by a desire to punish society for his perceived status as an "incel" - short for involuntary celibate - because he believed women would not have sex with him. He had pleaded that he was not criminally responsible.

Monday’s sentencing hearing featured emotional testimony from survivors and family members of those killed in the attack.

Survivors and civilians who provided first aid on the scene talked about the lasting guilt they felt at not having been killed that day and at not having saved more people. Survivors spoke of lasting physical and psychological damage.

Numerous relatives described their pain at losing siblings, parents and spouses.

Geraldine Brady had left a half cup of tea sitting on the table at home, her daughter Janice Kirby said.

She said she remembered how quiet the street felt as she beheld the attack's aftermath and a tarp-covered body she would later learn was her mother’s.

Amaresh Tesfamariam's niece spoke about her aunt's medical ordeal: the long-term care nurse and refugee from Eritrea was left a quadriplegic with severe health problems that kept her in hospital for three and a half years before she became the eleventh person to die because of the attack.

"She would always, always ask about the other victims and ask about their families," Tesfamariam said. "She was always hopeful that she would get better."

Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Toronto-based correspondent covering among other topics migration and health.