One of the most harrowing events involving substantial loss of life in the province in recent years occurred almost three years ago on Yonge Street in Toronto. On 23rd April 2018, Alek Minassian rented a van and drove it along a sidewalk deliberately striking pedestrians. His actions resulted in the death of 10 individuals and horrific injuries to 16 others. Following his arrest, Minassian told police that he belonged to an online subculture of men who blame women for their sexual frustration, describing himself as an incel, that is, involuntary celibate.
He was charged with 10 counts of First Degree Murder and 16 counts of Attempted Murder. He pleaded Not Guilty despite admitting the killings, relying on the defence that his autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impeded his ability to understand the nature of his actions. That defence provoked outrage from autism advocacy groups. Autism Canada issued a press release last November stating, “Autism Canada wish to publicly denounce the egregious claims made by defence counsel psychiatrists who attribute Alek Minassian’s actions to his autistic way of thinking (sic being) severely distorted similar to psychosis.”
His trial, which lasted five weeks towards the end of last year, culminated today in the Decision of the Trial Judge, Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy. In finding him guilty on all charges, Justice Molloy said, “I am sure that resentment towards women who were never interested in him was a factor in this attack, but not a driving force, instead … he piggybacked on the ‘incel’ movement to ratchet up his own notoriety. Why did he do it? There is a long answer,” she wrote. “But there is a short answer, a bottom line: he did it to become famous.”