The Toronto man convicted of the second-degree murder of Teresa Santos, a Queen West senior who relied on a walker due to mobility issues, has been sentenced to life in prison and won’t be eligible for parole for 17 years.
Damien Allred, 43, twisted his long braids, showing no emotion, as he sat in the prisoner’s box listening to Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar read out his reasons for the sentence at the University Avenue courthouse Wednesday morning.
Akhtar noted the brutality of the attack of the senior who lived alone in an 8th floor unit at 24 Shaw Street. It was August 11, 2020 when another building resident noticed a strong odour emanating from unit 801 and notified the superintendent. When the superintendent opened Santos’ door, he found her lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Her face covered by a blood-stained pillow and a bloody shoe print on the pillow.
Santos had been severely beaten. She had wounds on her face, broken teeth and broken ribs from Allred stomping on her chest. Decomposition had already begun. The jury heard that Santos was last seen three days earlier. Her sister also last spoke to her on August 8th, 2020, three days before her body was found.
“She was a vulnerable 75-year-old woman with walking disabilities. She was attacked in her own home. A place where she had every right to feel safe and secure,” Justice Akhtar said.
The day after Santos’ body was found, a CT scan and post-mortem investigation led to the discovery of a knife lodged inside her mouth.
“He put a pillow over her face and stomped on it twice and then inserted a knife into her mouth, through her skull and brain. The knife buried so deeply, it could not be detected when she was first found,” Akhrar noted as an aggravating circumstance.
Allred became a suspect after investigators found a trail of bloody footprints consistent with the PUMA footprint found on the pillow in Santos’ apartment leading down the hallway to Unit 809, where Allred lived with his wife and kids. Police also saw Allred on video surveillance wearing PUMA-style sandals and had video of him making numerous trips to the garbage bin where it’s believed Allred dumped his bloody clothes and Santos’ keys.
Allred’s DNA was also found under Santos’ fingernails.
Crown prosecutors had asked for a period of parole ineligibility of between 18 and 20 years whereas defence suggested 12 to 15 years. It took a jury less than a day to convict Allred of second-degree murder last November.
Allred has no prior convictions, but Justice Akhtar noted he had suffers from drug and alcohol addiction issues for which he’s been treated in rehabilitation and had also been medicated for depression and anxiety. “Mr Allred has shown no remorse for his actions. A lack of remorse speaks to a lack of rehabilitative prospects,” Akhtar added.
“This was an horrific attack on an elderly woman in the confines of her own home. The motive for the murder remains a mystery, however the trauma will not vanish.”
Santos leaves behind three children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After court, Santos’ sister Lucinda Oliviera said she wishes the period of parole ineligibility had been higher. “That trauma will live with me forever. Why was she killed?” said Santos who remembers her sister as a sweet lady who loved to make others laugh.
Oliviera said listening to the details of what happened to her sister made her sick and sad. “What comes into his mind to kill someone who has no way to defend herself. She was a poor handicapped lady. Why did he attack her and kill her?”
Allred was also ordered to submit his DNA, was given a lifetime weapons prohibition and is forbidden from contacting Santos’ family.
Crown Attorney Michael Cantlon released a statement after the sentence was delivered.
“The two factors that make this inexplicable violent crime particularly disturbing are the vulnerabilities of the deceased and the gratuitous injuries Mr. Allred inflicted on the victim,” Cantlon wrote.
Toronto’s top prosecutor added “Every citizen in Toronto deserves to be and feel safe – particularly in their own homes. Mr. Allred has been held accountable for his actions.”