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Crown seeks life sentence for man who tried to kill Edmonton officer, pedestrians in U-Haul attack

WATCH ABOVE: Videos of the Sharif trial and Edmonton van attack coverage

A sentencing hearing is set to wrap up Friday for a man who struck an Edmonton police officer with a car before stabbing him multiple times outside a football game.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 32, was also found guilty of running down four pedestrians with a U-Haul van on Sept. 30, 2017.

A jury convicted Sharif in October of attempted murder, aggravated assault, criminal flight causing bodily harm and dangerous driving. He was not represented by a lawyer.

READ MORE: Abdulahi Sharif found guilty of all charges, including 5 of attempted murder in Edmonton attacks

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee says the judge needs to send a strong message in this sentence.

On the first day of the sentencing hearing Thursday, McFee was in court to deliver a community impact statement during Sharif’s sentencing hearing.

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“The jury might have thought, for the officers involved, that this was just another day at the office.

“This was not just another day at the office. This was a stranger attempting to kill people.”

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“We ask that justice be served,” McFee said.

The prosecution said the Crown is seeking a life sentence.

“This event was unprovoked and therefore unable to be predicted, which the Crown submits make all of these attempted murders extremely dangerous,” Chief Crown Prosecutor Shelley Bykewich said.

“At best, Mr. Sharif’s risk for future gratuitous violence is unknown. All we have is what he did on Sept. 30, 2017, which the Crown submits shows a high degree of dangerousness and a significant risk to both the police and the public.

“Given the circumstances, the maximum sentence would be entirely consistent with the principles of sentencing.

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“So it’s the Crown’s position that a fit and appropriate sentence for [the attempted murder of] Const. Chernyk is life imprisonment.”

Five others, including two of the pedestrians hit by Sharif, also read victim impact statements.

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Kim O’Hara said her life was changed forever. She was hospitalized for 42 days. O’Hara said her personality has changed. She suffers anger issues, many suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety.

“I feel like I lost two years of my life.

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“It’s exhausting to figure out who I am and figure out why this happened to me and my family,” she said. “I will suffer from that night for the rest of my life and nothing will change that.”

O’Hara said she continues to experience memory loss and challenges with speech, multi-tasking, reading and writing.

“This trial took me back two years and reopened wounds,” she added.  “Gave me panic, anxiety, nightmares and anger.”

O’Hara’s son submitted a victim impact statement, describing how his mom became mad and yelled more after being injured in the U-Haul attack.

Victim impact statement in Abdulahi Hasan Sharif sentencing hearing.
Victim impact statement in Abdulahi Hasan Sharif sentencing hearing. Court evidence

Prosecutor Elizabeth Wheaton said the Crown is seeking a global 20-year sentence (to be served concurrently) for the crimes relating to the U-Haul rampage, including striking pedestrians and criminal flight causing bodily harm.

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“This driving pattern can be described as nothing other than horrendous and terrifying,” Wheaton said.

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“The seriousness of this incident is also reflected in the impact that it had, not only on the victims who were injured, but also on the police officers who were involved in the flight and the other civilian witnesses.”

Wheaton stressed the importance of acknowledging the emotional and mental toll on everyone involved in addition to the physical toll.

“In some cases, those are going to be the hardest injuries for the victims to recover from.”

READ MORE: ‘I saw him get hit and fly’: Sharif trial hears from couple who witnessed Edmonton officer attacked

The prosecutor also said the disregard for police needs to be strongly deterred.

“He wanted to kill people,” Wheaton said. “It is not because of any acts of Mr. Sharif that nobody died. It is not because of any acts of Mr. Sharif that nobody else was injured.

“The only reason this is not a flight-causing-death [conviction] is luck and because of the actions of the police officers and the actions of some of the civilians that came to people’s aid and because of the victims who refused to die that night.

“This was a violent, unprovoked attack against unsuspecting strangers.

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“These victims mostly didn’t see it coming and there was absolutely no way they could have protected themselves,” she said.

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The jury found Sharif used a white Chevrolet Malibu as a weapon to hit Const. Mike Chernyk, who was manning traffic near Commonwealth Stadium during that night’s Edmonton Eskimos game.

Sharif got out of the car, walked over to where Chernyk landed, pulled out a knife and began to stab the officer in the chest and head. Sharif then ran away.

Hours later during a high-speed chase through downtown Edmonton in a rented U-Haul cube van, Sharif mowed down two men standing in an alley outside a bar before driving on a sidewalk and hitting two women.

READ MORE: Crown says Abdulahi Sharif wanted to cause ‘as much chaos’ as possible during Edmonton attacks

The three-week trial heard from about 40 Crown witnesses, but Sharif declined to call any witnesses and did not testify in his own defence.

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Sharif also declined to participate in a pre-sentencing report, which can help a judge determine punishment.

Sentencing was scheduled for two days.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 32, shown in a handout photo.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 32, shown in a handout photo. HO-Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

With files from The Canadian Press and Fletcher Kent, Global News