For trial, Veltman came up with 'new version' of why he killed Muslim family: prosecution

The prosecution is arguing the killings were planned and deliberate acts but Veltman has portrayed himself as an isolated and mentally unstable

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Editor’s note: This story contains details that may be upsetting to some readers

WINDSOR – Time, the prosecution said, gave accused killer Nathaniel Veltman the chance to come up with a new and improved version of why he ran over a London Muslim family with his souped-up pickup truck, not only for a jury to hear but to make it easier to live with himself.

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During his seven days in the witness box, Veltman said repeatedly he was in a “dreamlike” and “detached” state that had made it difficult to resist the “urge” to run over Muslims on June 6, 2021, after months of consuming far-right, racist content on the Internet and while coming down from a magic mushroom trip.

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But assistant Crown attorney Jennifer Moser said during the last day of her cross-examination, Veltman already had considered what the consequences would be before he killed four members of the Afzaal family and that it was “worth it” to spend the rest of his life behind bars to send his message to Muslims and inspire others like him.

“I wouldn’t say I decided it was worth that,” Veltman said to Moser during the final moments of the cross-examination Monday.

Moser said the only reason Veltman’s story had changed from what he told London police Det. Micah Bourdeau during two extensive police interviews where he outlined his white nationalist views, “is because it no longer feels worth it anymore, does it?”

“No, that’s not the case,” Veltman said.

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Moser continued. “That brutally murdering this beautiful family and seriously hurting and orphaning this small boy now to you seems like a pointless and horrific act.”

Veltman said he recognized what happened was “immoral and horrible.”

“The Crown’s suggestion is, because you’ve had nothing but time to think about what you did on June 6, 2021, you’ve come up with this new version to help yourself live with what you did to this family,” Moser said.

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“No, I accept whatever happens,” Veltman said.

Veltman has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for the shocking hit-and-run crash on June 6, 2021, at a northwest London intersection.

Four members of the Afzaal family – Talat Afzaal, 72, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their daughter Yumnah Afzaal, 15 – were killed when Veltman struck them with his pickup truck. The couple’s nine-year-old son was injured.

The prosecution is arguing the killings were planned and deliberate acts, and also were acts of white nationalist terrorism. It’s the first time Canada’s terrorism laws have been argued before a first-degree murder trial jury.

But Veltman has portrayed himself as an isolated, mentally unstable son of a home-schooling “religious fanatic” mother who was easily influenced by the steady diet of online far-right propaganda – much of it about crimes alleged perpetrated by Muslims, particularly “grooming gangs in the United Kingdom” – that enraged him.

The after-effects of a psilocybin trip, he said, had amped up his anger, and he couldn’t control an “urge” to drive his Dodge Ram pickup truck at the Muslim family when he saw them while he was out driving around London to buy food.

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But Moser has been picking away at Veltman’s story since last week and on Monday focused her cross-examination on forensic psychiatrist Julian Gojer’s notes about his meetings with Veltman on behalf of the defence. Gojer is expected to be the next witness.

Moser pointed out, at the first meeting with Gojer in July 2021, Veltman said he put on his helmet and bullet-proof vest before the crash because “I felt I was going to war. I wore it as I hit them. I felt this surge of evil and this sense of relief.”

This past June, he told Gojer he drove at “the man,” picturing him as “a rapist.”

Veltman said that was just his own theory connecting the crash to what he was reading online. “I know I felt the urge to crash into them. That was just my theory. I’m not a psychologist.”

Moser said the “urge” was “your urge to kill them.” Veltman said it was an urge “to drive into them” and he wasn’t thinking about killing them.

“What in the world were you thinking when you were driving your truck into them?” Moser said.

“My mind was a mess, I don’t understand it myself,” he said.

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Moser zeroed in on a new part of Veltman’s story that popped up at the trial. Veltman testified he believed when he was driving at the family he changed his mind at the last “split-second” and turned to the left, but it was too late.

Veltman had only told one person that version and it was Gojer. That happened on Sept. 23, 12 days after the jury had seen a video, recorded by cameras at a Peavey Mart near Hyde Park and South Carriage roads that showed the truck speeding toward the family. The Crown cut off the video to just before impact.

The video was shown to Veltman again, with Moser reminding him that he had “the pedal to the metal” and never braked before hitting the family. Also, she said, he would have known what would happen because he had done research on the chances of a pedestrian dying versus the speed of a vehicle.

He was able to manoeuvre his truck between a utility pole and a wire, Moser said, and the slight left turn was to make sure he hit all five family members. Also, he didn’t stop to offer help – he recalls something flying over the truck – and just kept going until he was arrested four minutes later.

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“I didn’t want to see what I had done, because the adrenalin and horror took over,” he said.

Veltman insisted there was never a plan. But Moser went through the 2021 timeline:  Veltman started writing his manifesto, A White Awakening, on May 4 and finished on June 1, he bought the truck on May 11, he picked it up May 19 and before June 6, he added a 90-kilogram bull bar and tinted the windows.

At some point, he made a “crusader” T-shirt by painting crosses on the front and back of a white shirt. He also had bought the bullet-proof vest and the army helmet, because Moser, suggested, he thought he might be killed by police when he carried out the attack.

Moser said Veltman thought about killing Muslims when he drove to Toronto the day before the attack and while on his way home from work about an hour before he killed the Afzaals. He went home, read the Christchurch manifesto of Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019,  and watched a vehicle attack in the United Kingdom.

Veltman put on his T-shirt and staged the apartment so police could easily find out about his motive before he left to kill, Moser said.

Veltman said that was “ridiculous. Attacking Muslims in Canada doesn’t send a message to grooming gangs on another continent. This is me just trying to justify my actions.”

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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Originally posted 2023-10-24 02:03:32.