Canada

MANDEL: The mass murderer who shall not be named

Toronto van attack killer found criminally responsible

Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto

Know their names. The names that matter.

Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Munir Najjar, 85, Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, 45, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83, and Ji Hun Kim, 22.

As for the mass murderer convicted for ending their lives, how tempting it is to never link his name with theirs again. To deprive him of the infamy he sought when he ran down pedestrians on that bright spring day three years ago in his grotesque quest for a high kill count atop a macabre leaderboard.

In a bold and unusual move, Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy refused to feed the notoriety he craved. In convicting him of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder, rejecting his defence of being not criminally responsible due to autism, she referred to him only as John Doe.

Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.

“It is my hope that his name would no longer be published by anyone else either,” she said in her ruling livestreamed over YouTube. “That is not an order I will make, it is merely a wish, perhaps a naïve one.”

Unfortunately, it is.

We must write his name, if reluctantly. Sparingly. Alek Minassian. Cold-blooded, convicted mass murderer.

Coward.

Too afraid to fail at his new job, too timid to face the consequences of his massacre, too gutless to even launch his attack without appropriating someone else’s ridiculous cause.

Despite claiming to have been radicalized by the misogynist incel movement, Molloy didn’t believe it was the driving force behind his deadly attack.

Instead, she believes he was simply looking for attention.

The 10 people killed in the April 23, 2018 Toronto van attack.
The 10 people killed in the April 23, 2018 Toronto van attack.

“He wanted to be seen. He wanted to be known, and talked about. He saw no way to accomplish that except through a spectacular act of violence,” she said.

So why did he do it? The short answer — “He did it to become famous.”

She rejected the rambling testimony of defence expert Dr. Alexander Westphal of Yale University, who insisted Minassian’s ASD left him incapable of understanding the moral wrongfulness of his actions. She found Westphal an unreliable witness who lacked a basic understanding of the NCR test under Canadian law and purposely sat on information that didn’t support his opinion.

“In this case, Mr. Doe knew it was legally wrong to kill people. He also knew that his plan to run down and kill people constituted first-degree murder and that, if arrested, he would go to jail for the rest of his life. That is why his plan was to ‘die by cop,’ death being preferable to jail.

“Mr. Doe knew that the vast majority of people in society would find an act of mass murder to be morally wrong. However, he desperately wanted to achieve fame and notoriety, believing even negative attention for his actions would be better than to live in obscurity.”

Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018. Photo by Screengrab

He knew full well the impact it would have.

“He knew death would be irreversible. He knew their families would grieve,” Molloy said.  “At various times during his assessments by various experts, he described his actions as being ‘devastating,’ ‘despicable,’ ‘shocking,’ ‘morally terrible,’ ‘horrible thing,’ and ‘irredeemable.’”

Despite his autism spectrum disorder, he knew this attack he’d long planned was morally wrong.

“He then made a choice. He chose to commit the crimes anyway, because it was what he really wanted to do.”

  1. Toronto Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a rental van hit pedestrians along Yonge St. on April 23, 2018. (CP)

    MANDEL: Not criminally responsible? Toronto van killer to learn verdict

  2. Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto

    MANDEL: Will this be mass killer Alek Minassian's last Christmas behind bars?

  3. Alek Minassian is accused of murdering 10 people and wounding 16 others in a van attack on Yonge St. in Toronto.

    MANDEL: Blame Minassian's autism for 'horrific' mass killing, lawyer insists

And so he revved his engine, mounted the curb and roared down the sidewalk, tossing bodies into the air, leaving blood and agony in his wake.

Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky had yet to speak with his client but said, “statistically the vast majority of people convicted of murder in this country do file appeals.”

READ THE VERDICT

In the meantime, he’s facing life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years — though it could be much longer if Molloy imposes consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

So when we must say his shameful name, we can add this: Alek Minassian — lifer.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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