Fifty-six-year-old John Reszetnik has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years for the killing of an unsuspecting stranger at a Toronto subway station, what Justice John McMahon called “a truly despicable act.”
In handing down his sentence, McMahon said that general deterrence and denunciation must be paramount when setting parole ineligibility, considering the devastating impact the death would have had on the victim’s family, the subway train driver, commuters and the “ripple effect” it caused.
It was June 18, 2018 at 10:07 a.m. when Reszetnik, who was 53 years old at the time, entered the Bloor-Yonge subway platform.
Seven minutes later, Reszetnik moved behind 73-year-old Yosuke Hayahara, who “was minding his own business,” and pushed him in front of the subway as it travelled at approximately 50 kilometres an hour.
Hayahara was pulled under the subway and trapped between the train and the wall of the station. Hayahara was taken to hospital where he later died of blunt impact chest trauma.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Reszetnik loitered on the subway platform before leaving the station. He went to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to buy a drink, before returning to the scene.
Reszetnik approached a firefighter and told him: “I’m the one who pushed him, mental illness.”
When asked why, Reszetnik said: “I thought it was my landlord, he evicted me.”
The firefighter went to get a police officer.
“I did it. I pushed him. I killed him,” Reszetnik told the officer.
When the officer read Reszetnik his rights and said he was under arrest for aggravated assault, Reszetnik replied: “I murdered him. What are you doing? It’s not assault, it’s murder.”
Reszetnik later told the officer he imagined it was his landlord, thought he was going to be evicted and homeless and said he regretted his actions.
It was later admitted in court that Reszetnik voluntarily ended his lease at the end of June 2018 on a Scarborough property but still had a place to live in midtown Toronto.
It was an admitted fact that Reszetnik was not going to be homeless.
McMahon said his sentence was hampered by the fact that Reszetnik did not agree to have a mental health assessment after pleading guilty but has ordered, as part of his sentence, that Reszetnik be seen by a psychiatrist to determine any treatment plan required and medication.
“There is no in-depth psychiatric assessment or report of future risk,” said McMahon explaining that he wanted to assist Reszetnik with any ongoing mental health challenges and any risk he poses to the community.
McMahon said that Elizabeth Gaudet, Reszetnik’s lawyer, diligently examined at the outset the possibility of her client being “not criminally responsible (NCR).”
But McMahon was advised by Gaudet there was no medical evidence of NCR.
The crown had asked for a parole ineligibility period of 15 years while the defence had suggested a period of between 12 and 13 years. McMahon instead handed down 14 years taking into account the fact that Reszetnik pleaded guilty, is remorseful, and has no prior convictions.
Still, McMahon denounced Reszetnik for using a vital transportation hub to commit the murder and called it “a commuter’s worst nightmare” raising concerns about potential copy cats.
“This court cannot give them what they want most. That is their loved one back,” McMahon told the victims’ family.
McMahon also banned Reszetnik from possessing firearms for life, and ordered him to provide a DNA sample for the DNA databank.
Court heard that Reszetnik has already received one vaccination dose for COVID-19.