ISAND Reacts to Minassian Verdict
It is with some relief that Justice Anne Molloy ruled against the Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) plea used by the defence of John Doe (Alex Minassian) because of his ASD diagnosis. John Doe was found guilty today of all charges laid against him for the April 2018 van attack in Toronto in which ten people were killed and sixteen others wounded.
We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of closure to the families of the victims.
The defence team argued that Mr. Doe, did not know that his actions were morally wrong. In her sixty eight (68) page verdict, Justice Molloy was clearly of the opinion that Mr. Doe thought about the crimes he was going to commit, put in significant planning and considered the consequences of his actions. “Mr. Doe, understands that death is permanent. He understood the impact that his actions would have on his family and the families of his victims. He knew that what he was planning do to was morally wrong by society’s standards”, said Justice Molloy when presenting her verdict.
Although a measure of justice has been served, many in the autism community are concerned about the lasting impact of the defence strategy. Incorrect perceptions about people on the spectrum lacking empathy, or being violent were somehow reinforced by the defence tactics and the media coverage. The fact that Mr. Doe’s on-line radicalization, his quest to be famous, and his misogyny were the significant factors behind his crimes, may, unfortunately, be overshadowed by his diagnosis of ASD.
It’s up to each and every one of us to take every opportunity that we have to inform the public of the real factors behind these horrific accidents.