Judge rules Toronto massage parlour murder was a terrorist act

Click to play video: 'Judge reserves decision on whether North York massage parlour murder was act of terrorism'
Judge reserves decision on whether North York massage parlour murder was act of terrorism
A decision over whether or not a murder in a North York massage parlour was a terrorist act will impact sentencing and would be a precedent the judge explained. Catherine McDonald reports – May 23, 2023

In a precedent-setting ruling, a Superior Court of Ontario judge has ruled the murder of a female employee and the attempted murder of another female employee at a North York spa in February 2020 did meet the Criminal Code definition of a terrorist activity, motivated in whole or in part by the misogynistic incel ideology.

Justice Suhail Akhtar delivered his bottom-line ruling over Zoom. His reasons for the decision will follow at a later date.

It was Feb. 20, 2020 when a 17-year-old youth who can only be identified as O.S. walked into the Crown Spa, at Dufferin Street and Wilson Avenue and viciously attacked 24-year-old Ashley Arzaga carrying a hand-engraved sword engraved with the words “thot slayer” and targeted two sex workers in their place of employment.

The surviving victim, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, testified that during the machete attack, the teen made denigrating comments about her sexuality, before saying “die, die, die.”

Story continues below advertisement

A note that said “long live the incel rebellion” was found in the teen’s pocket after the offence. The teen told investigators he carried it in his pocket because incels exist and life is not fair for incels. “Incels” refers to an online subculture of so-called “involuntary celibates” — men who have been rejected sexually by women and who foster hatred.

Click to play video: 'Precedent-setting charge laid against teen accused of murder at Toronto massage parlour'
Precedent-setting charge laid against teen accused of murder at Toronto massage parlour

During a hearing last month, Lisa Mathews, general cousel for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, argued that the teen was motivated by the incel ideology and that the act constituted terrorism. She argued O.S.’s intention was to intimidate the public.

Defence counsel Maurice Mattis urged Akhtar to find that the incel ideology does not fall within the terrorist ideology. Mattis told the judge that if he found incel to be a terrorist ideology, it would open the floodgates to other cases.

Story continues below advertisement

“You will see a slew of hate crimes being pulled into the terrorism legislation,” Mattis told the court.

Click to play video: 'Triple stabbing leaves 1 dead at adult massage parlour in Toronto'
Triple stabbing leaves 1 dead at adult massage parlour in Toronto

This is only the second time an offender has been convicted under Section 231 (6.01) of the Criminal Code, which deems murder to be first-degree if it is committed in the course of a terrorist activity, despite the fact the legislation was passed 22 years ago.

In August 2021, Saad Akhtar was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years. Akhtar fatally attacked a stranger named Annie Hang-Kam Chiu with a hammer on a sidewalk in Scarborough, before walking into a police station and turning himself in. He confessed he was motivated to commit a terrorist attack in the name of ISIS. The offender acted alone.

In July, O.S. will return to court, at which time a sentencing hearing will be scheduled. Provincial Crown attorneys have indicated they will be seeking to have O.S. who is now 20, sentenced as an adult.


Sponsored content