March 7, 2022

Accused in fatal London, Ont., truck attack now has a Toronto lawyer, court told | CBC News

The man facing murder and terrorism charges in the hit and run of a London, Ont., family earlier this month now has a lawyer, court was told Monday.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, faces four first-degree murder charges, one attempted murder charge and associated terrorism charges. Police and prosecutors allege the attack involving a truck was an act of anti-Muslim hate. 

The accused’s lawyer is Christopher Hicks of Toronto, the hearing from Ontario Superior Court, via video link from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, was told.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed in the June attack by a black pickup truck. The youngest member of the family, a nine-year-old boy, is the only survivor. He’s been released from hospital and is being cared for by extended family. 

Veltman was arrested a short drive from the scene of the crash.

No word on bail hearing

During Monday’s virtual hearing, his hands were clasped in front of him. Wearing an orange jail-issued T-shirt and pants, Veltman stared straight ahead as lawyers discussed when to schedule his next hearing. 

Federal and provincial prosecutors told the court they would be sending disclosure — the evidence gathered against Veltman by police and the Crown —  to Hicks by July 23 at the latest. 

Hicks previously told CBC News he would not speak to the media until he was officially retained.

Federal prosecutors upgraded Veltman’s murder and attempted murder charges to include terrorism.

Under the Criminal Code, terror charges can be laid when prosecutors believe a crime is committed for a political, religious or ideological purpose, for the purpose of intimidating the public or a segment of the public. 

Veltman hasn’t had a bail hearing yet or entered a plea. Asked Monday if any thought had been given to a bail hearing, a law student representing Hicks at the hearing said she didn’t have any instructions about that yet. 

Flag-wrapped coffins are seen outside the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario, during a funeral June 12 for the Afzaal family, killed in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

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