‘I was wrong and I’m sorry’: Toronto subway pusher apologizes to victim’s family

Click to play video: 'Man who pushed stranger in front of TTC subway train thought it was his landlord' Man who pushed stranger in front of TTC subway train thought it was his landlord
WATCH ABOVE (January 2021): As Catherine McDonald report, John Reszetnik said he feared he was going to be evicted and had nowhere to live – Jan 28, 2021

The Toronto man who pushed a complete stranger in front of a moving subway train in an unprovoked attack, causing the death of 73-year-old Yosuke Hayahara in June 2018 apologized to the family of the victim on day two of a sentencing hearing.

“I am very sorry to the family of Mr. Hayahara, to his daughter, to his grandchildren. This is going to weigh with me for the rest of my life. I apologize profusely. I was wrong and I’m sorry,” John Reszetnik said in a calm voice appearing on video from a room inside the Toronto South Detention Centre.

During the two-hour virtual hearing, Reszetnik’s lawyer Elizabeth Gaudet made arguments for why a period of parole ineligibility of 12 to 13 years for her client was adequate calling the crown’s submission of life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years “a little over the top” given Reszetnik’s remorse.

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Read more: Man who murdered stranger at TTC subway station should have 15-year parole ineligibility, Crown argues

Reszetnik pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January. It was revealed to the virtual court that Reszetnik was assessed by a psychiatrist for a potential not criminally responsible (NCR) defence but that report has never been presented to the court for consideration.

“Mr. Reszetnik came into this situation in somewhat tragic circumstances as a 53-year-old gentleman without a strong work history and no direct family other than a nephew. He seemed to acknowledge, at least to Dr. Ali (a psychiatrist who examined him in 2020 whether he was fit to stand trial), that he did abuse marijuana and alcohol for years,” said Gaudet, telling McMahon that while her client is certainly remorseful, he also appears to suffer from some mental health issues.

Read more: Toronto man who fatally pushed stranger in front of subway says he thought it was his landlord

McMahon expressed concern that Reszetnik refused to participate in a pre-sentence report into his mental health.

“I have this lacuna of information on his mental state. The whole purpose of sentencing is to ensure the public is protected and help your client with his rehabilitation. The missing mental health part, it’s very troubling. Your client’s unwillingness to participate, when your submission is that mental health caused the killing,” said McMahon.

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Gaudet agreed that while it’s regrettable that Reszetnik refused to meet with a psychiatrist despite her urging him to do so, she disagreed with McMahon on the motive.

“I have never gone so far to say the mental health issues caused Mr. Reszetnik to do this. I’m in the same lacuna you are, your Honour because I don’t understand the motive,” said Gaudet.

READ MORE: Man pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder after intentionally pushing stranger in front of Toronto subway

“We don’t have psychiatric evidence. That is of great concern to me, but I do note that he’s been on medication at Toronto South Detention Centre. He’s been there for 33 months with no history of problems for anger, he’s in the medical unit, he’s segregated. That’s what he’s asked for, for himself,” she said.

Crown attorney Sean Doyle said that while mental illness is a factor with regard to moral blameworthiness, there is no evidence that mental illness played a role in the murder calling it “speculative at best.”

Gaudet said her client has suffered from isolation, desolation, depression and anxiety for some time.

On the day of the murder at the Yonge-Bloor subway station, Reszetnik left the platform and walked down Yonge Street, even stopping in at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, but returned less than an hour later and expressed his remorse to a firefighter and a police officer who took him back to 53 division.

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Read more: Man, 57, charged with 1st-degree murder in death of man killed by Toronto subway train

Gaudet said that Reszetnik told Const. Kroll after his arrest, “I murdered him, I don’t know why they didn’t arrest me on the platform. I imagined my landlord, who … he’s evicting me and I can’t find a place. I’ll be homeless. I did it. It’s no joke. I killed him.”

In additional facts read out and agreed upon by the crown and defence, court heard Reszetnik had two apartments at the time of the offence and had voluntarily agreed to leave one of his residences in April 2018 and allowed his landlord to show the unit to prospective tenants. Reszetnik was also not being evicted from his second apartment.

McMahon will deliver his judgement on sentence next week via zoom.

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