Toronto van attacker found guilty of killing 10 and injuring 16

The Canadian faces a minimum life term of 25 years in prison for committing one of the country's most horrific attacks

Families of the victims of a deadly 2018 van attack react after the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian was delivered, outside the provincial Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 3, 2021.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren
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A 28-year-old Canadian who ploughed a van into pedestrians in a deadly attack three years ago in Toronto was found guilty Wednesday of murdering 10 people and trying to kill 16 others.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Anne Molloy rejected defence arguments that Alek Minassian's autism spectrum disorder ASD made him incapable of discerning right from wrong in what she termed a "horrific" crime.

Minassian faces a minimum term of 25 years in prison. A sentencing hearing will be set for mid-March in a case focused on what is considered to be one of Canada's most horrific attacks.

"His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind, notwithstanding its horrific nature and notwithstanding that he has no remorse for it and no empathy for his victims," the judge said in her ruling.

"He knew it was morally wrong by society's standards," she said, but "he chose to commit the crimes anyway".

Judge Molloy ruled that Minassian was "criminally responsible for his actions".

The six-week trial featured evidence given by several psychiatrists.

Minassian's mother had said he suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism that includes impaired social interactions or communication.

Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky said in his closing arguments that Minassian's disorder left him incapable of discerning right from wrong and making a rational choice when he decided to attack bystanders.

Advocacy groups had condemned the use of autism as a defence, concerned it would further stigmatise those with the disorder.

Minassian had driven a rented van at high speeds along two kilometres of roads and sidewalks, indiscriminately hitting pedestrians.

He had stopped his rampage, he told police, only after his windshield was obscured by a spilt drink.

His trial heard that he would do it all again if he were let out of jail to better his "kill count".

Just prior to the attack, he posted on Facebook: "The incel rebellion has already begun" and referred to American mass killer Elliot Rodger, who committed a similar attack in California.

During a police interrogation, Minassian described the anger he felt towards women and said this had motivated the attack.

He said he had joined an online community of like-minded men who described themselves as "incels" or "involuntary celibates", whose sexual frustrations led them to embrace a misogynist ideology.

But in subsequent interviews with doctors, he gave different motives for the attack, including seeking notoriety.

Judge Molloy noted in her decision that the "carnage against innocent people" in this case was "one of the most devastating tragedies this city has ever endured for the purpose of achieving notoriety".

Seeking to limit the publicity that Minassian sought, she referred to him as John Doe as she read out the verdict live-streamed on YouTube.