Spotlight on terror laws at trial of man found guilty in London attack

La juge Renee Pomerance, de gauche à droite, Nathaniel Veltman et la procureure de la Couronne Jennifer Moser sont vus au tribunal de Windsor, en Ontario, le mercredi 18 octobre 2023. (Alexandra Newbould | La Presse canadienne)

TORONTO - A landmark trial that put Canada's terrorism laws in the spotlight has culminated in a guilty verdict, but what role terror allegations played in the jury's decision to convict Nathaniel Veltman in a deadly attack on a Muslim family will remain a mystery.

Jurors on Thursday found the 22-year-old Veltman guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk in London, Ont., on June 6, 2021.

The judge overseeing the trial, Justice Renee Pomerance, had instructed the jury they could deliver a first-degree murder verdict if they unanimously agreed that the Crown established Veltman had intended to kill the victims, and planned and deliberated his attack.

She also told the jurors they could reach a first-degree murder conviction if they found that the killings were terrorist activity.

Juries do not provide details on how they reach their decisions, nor can they be questioned on the matter.

However, judges in jury trials typically make findings of fact as part of the sentencing process, and Pomerance is likely to weigh in on the terror aspect at that time.