Jurors in the London attack trial hear closing arguments from the defence


The defence lawyer for the man accused of killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., delivered his closing arguments to the jury on Tuesday, insisting his client is not guilty of the charges.

Twenty-two-year-old Nathaniel Veltman is facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for deliberately hitting the Afzaal family with his truck on June 6, 2021, while they were out for a walk in London – prosecutors have alleged his actions amount to an act of terrorism.

In the Windsor, Ont., courtroom where the trial is taking place, defence lawyer Christopher Hicks said Veltman didn't commit an act of terrorism and is not guilty of first-degree murder because he didn't have criminal intent to kill the victims and didn't deliberately plan the attack.

Hicks said Veltman suffered from several mental disorders including severe depression, autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder and had ingested magic mushrooms two days before the attack.

He said the attack was a "drug-induced hypomanic event" and that Veltman's conduct around the time of the attack demonstrates "elevated" and "unpredictable" behaviour.

Hicks argued Veltman was not guilty of first- or second-degree murder but should still be held responsible for the deaths of the victims.

"He was not capable of forming ... or did not form the intent necessary to convict for murder in the second degree," Hicks told the jury.

"If you felt he didn't have (intent) or did not form the necessary intention for murder, he would still be responsible for the deaths of these people ... he would be guilty of manslaughter."

Salman Afzaal, 46; his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the attack, while the couple's nine-year-old son was seriously hurt but survived.