Hamed Shafia (inset), the Montreal man convicted, along with his father and mother, of murdering four family members in what the trial judge called a “heinous” and “despicable” mass honour killing, is poised to present a new claim to Ontario’s top court in the appeal of his conviction. The youngest Shafia killer maintains that he was not 18 years old at the time of the murders on June 30, 2009, and he has documents newly obtained from Afghanistan, his birthplace, that purport to prove it, Cancrime learned.
A Montreal father, mother and son convicted nearly four years ago of murdering four other family members in an honour killing argue, in an appeal to Ontario’s top court, that they were victims of “cultural stereotyping” and “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” that should not have been admitted at their murder trial. In a 110-page document filed with the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Mohammad Shafia, 62 (inset), his wife Tooba, 45, and their son Hamed, 24, claim they’re entitled to a new trial. The document is a concise outline of the evidence and legal argument that lawyers for the three will present at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.
There is a kind of poetic brilliance in the sterile simplicity of written decisions of the Parole Board of Canada. The federal agency has the unenviable task of cataloguing horrors inflicted on society by figures who are both tragic and frightening. Derek Anthony Wood (inset) is one of these – a teenage mastermind of multiple murder. Wood was just 18 years old on May 7, 1992 when he and two accomplices set out to rob the McDonald’s Restaurant where he worked in tiny Sydney River, Nova Scotia. Wood believed, wrongly, that the safe held hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trio slaughtered three restaurant workers –shooting, stabbing and bludgeoning them – and left a fourth permanently disabled. They fled with roughly $2,000 but were soon caught and convicted. Wood, who was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, appears to have “some psychopathic traits,” according to the written record of his parole hearing (read document after the jump) convened earlier this year. He was denied any form of release.
Calgary realtor Tom Malin needs a good editor. Malin has one of the most talked about real estate listings in Calgary right now. He’s selling a 53-year-old two-storey (inset) on a leafy street in Brentwood, one of Cowtown’s older neighbourhoods in the northwest. The house at 11 Butler Crescent NW is listed at $489,900. The house is described, in Malin’s listing, as having “all the right bones for you and your family.” The word choice seems questionable and tasteless, given that the house was the site, 15 weeks ago, of a horrific mass murder in which five people were stabbed to death. Having ‘good bones’ is real estate marketing lingo tantamount to saying that the structure and foundation of a house is solid, but, cosmetically, it needs work. Surely Malin could have found a more creative and tasteful way to describe a property that is a lightning rod for community grief.
Five years ago today, around 10 a.m. on June 30, 2009, Brent White, a constable with the municipal police department in Kingston, Ontario, received a dispatch instructing him to go to Kingston Mills, a scenic and secluded spot on the northern edge of the city’s built-up area. At Kingston Mills, a series of ancient locks lifted boats from the level of Lake Ontario up to the level of the Cataraqui River. At one of the locks, a submerged car was spotted that morning by lock worker John Bruce. He had called police, beginning a chain of events that would reveal a horrifying quadruple homicide, Canada’s worst mass honour killing, orchestrated by Afghan immigrant Mohammad Shafia (inset).
What happens to Justin Bourque (inset) if he is convicted of murdering three RCMP officers and wounding two others in New Brunswick? Will the 24 year old spend decades penned in a small concrete box, languishing there until he dies of old age? Maybe not. Bourque, who faces three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in a shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., on June 4, 2014, could be a good candidate for parole, some day, given the bits and pieces of information that are now available. (UPDATE: On July 31, 2014, Bourque was declared fit to stand trial. SECOND UPDATE: On August 8, 2014, Bourque pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder and was subsequently sentenced to 75 years in prison with no eligibility for parole, the first person in Canada to face such a sentence since changes to the criminal law in 2011)
Missed me on TVO’s program The Agenda with Steve Paiken on February 26? You can watch the entire program online (embedded after the jump). The segment, a panel discussion on honour killings, featured Deeyah Khan (inset), whose film about the honour killing in 2006 of Banaz Mahmod in England won the 2013 Emmy Award for best International Documentary. The panel also featured activist and educator Aruna Papp, a South Asian immigrant to Canada who wrote a book about her struggle against the oppressive honour and shame code to which her family subscribed, and Hafsa Lodi a freelance journalist based in London, England and Dubai, who is a former Ryerson University (Toronto) student who wrote a column about media coverage of honour killings in Canada, particularly the Shafia case.
I’m not surprised that Kingston criminal lawyer David Crowe (inset) has sued convicted mass honour killer Mohammad Shafia. Crowe claims in a civil lawsuit that Shafia agreed to pay the trial legal bill of his accomplice/killer/wife Tooba and has now reneged on final payment. Crowe represented Tooba during the trial. Sources tell me that Crowe has been complaining for more than a year that he was never paid in full for his work on the trial. Maclean’s reporter Michael Friscolanti has this excellent story about the legal action. I’m not surprised, given what many people told me after I began covering the case in 2009 – that Shafia was a wealthy but incredibly stingy man who worshipped money. My book on the case, Without Honour, includes revelations you won’t find elsewhere about the depths of millionaire Shafia’s tightfistedness – such as his insistence in staying in cheap hotels and eating at discount restaurants during a lengthy business trip to China. One lawyer I spoke to who had dealings with Shafia noted that: “It’s one thing to have lots of money, but parting with it is another matter.”