Warning: This story comprises disturbing particulars
Testifying in his personal defence, Nathaniel Veltman detailed a troubled childhood headed by a “passive” father and a “spiritual fanatic” mom, after which a “means of decline mentally” within the months main as much as June 6, 2021, pickup truck assault on a Muslim household in London, Ont.
“I used to be continuously watching this conspiracy rubbish, this propaganda…. I used to be making an attempt to determine why I used to be in ache. I didn’t comprehend it was as a result of I used to be consuming this rubbish,” the accused informed the jury at his murder-terror trial in Ontario Superior Court docket in Windsor.
The 22-year-old was the primary witness for the defence within the trial that started with proceedings Sept. 11 and is predicted to final eight weeks.
Briefly opening remarks to the jury earlier than his shopper took to the witness field, defence lawyer Christopher Hicks mentioned, “You’ll depend on frequent sense, life expertise, your collective knowledge and human logic. It’s an train finest carried out in a rational and dispassionate method.
“There are two sides to each story. Presently, you solely have the aspect that the prosecution has superior. You aren’t able to attract any inferences or come to any conclusions but.”
Early in his testimony, the accused was talking so quietly that he needed to be informed a number of occasions by Justice Renee Pomerance to speak louder so the courtroom may hear him.
A lot of the day centered on the accused’s strict Christian upbringing in Strathroy and his mom, who he mentioned homeschooled him, his twin sister and their 4 youthful siblings. He mentioned his mom remoted him from the secular world and punished him for perceived disrespect and backtalk.
“I hated her,” he informed the jury. “I hated my life scenario however I used to be good at hiding it as a result of I couldn’t present any indicators of discontent.”
He mentioned he and his siblings “have been informed that college was a horrible place and there have been rising conflicts.”
“There was an excessive worry of corruption by the secular world, interactions with different individuals from the church…. I needed to be taught to be an skilled at hiding my feelings and maintaining all the pieces inside.”
By the afternoon, Hicks started asking the accused about among the proof and occasions main as much as the killing of the Afzaal household — the Dodge Ram pickup truck the accused bought in Might, a month earlier than the assault, the grill bar that was on the truck, and the weapons discovered contained in the car after his arrest.
The accused has pleaded not responsible to 4 counts of first-degree homicide and one depend of tried homicide, in addition to related terrorism fees within the June 6, 2021, assault. Defence and prosecution legal professionals agree he drove his pickup truck into the Afzaal household whereas they have been out for a stroll.
Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her mother and father Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and household matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, have been killed. A nine-year-old boy survived.
Accused says he purchased truck to go fishing
The accused testified he purchased the truck as a result of he needed to go fishing with a co-worker, and thought it might be good to make use of for off-roading.
“I had much more cash right now,” he mentioned.
He testified he picked up a grill protector after co-workers inspired him to get some truck upgrades, and he had gone off-roading together with his brother and didn’t need the truck to get scratched.
The accused additionally testified about among the gadgets present in his truck after the assault.
He mentioned he had owned the machete since he was 16 as a result of he had seen fights between the “tough crowd” at his highschool and he was paranoid. A serrated knife was a present from his mother and father, one other knife was used to chop twine at his warehouse job and he had an airsoft pistol as a result of he favored taking part in airsoft video games with individuals he knew from his childhood, he mentioned.
Veltman testified there was little contact with individuals exterior the household whereas he was rising up, however there have been frequent punishments that included bare-bottom spankings, writing out Bible verses and writing strains.
He mentioned he now is aware of among the methods he coped with the stress of his childhood are frequent traits of autism, together with making unusual noises and chewing the within of his cheeks till they have been “destroyed.”
“She didn’t know that I had psychological points or that I had autism. She misinterpreted my behaviour as me being disrespectful,” he testified about his mother.
Whereas being reprimanded by his mom, phrases similar to “however,” “simply” and “cease” have been forbidden and seen as disrespectful and speaking again, which might result in extra punishment.
The accused testified that when he was 10 or 11, he attributed what he referred to as his “delinquent and weird” behaviour in childhood as a product of his remoted childhood and “not being correctly socialized.” He realized about one thing referred to as obsessive compulsive dysfunction and thought he may need it.
“I knew there was one thing flawed with me,” he mentioned.
“I used to be simply being tormented that there was one thing horribly flawed with me. I believed that psychological sickness was simply being the secular world’s clarification of being possessed by demons.”
Proven footage of individuals burning alive in hell on the age of seven and informed to not assume evil or violent ideas, he mentioned, he turned obsessive about not pondering these ideas, which led to pondering extra about them.
“I started to obsess about not interested by violent and evil issues. I used to be obsessing about it. I used to be caught on this fixed loop. I started to suspect that one thing was horribly flawed with me, as a result of I’m pondering this stuff.”
He mentioned that when he informed his mother there is perhaps one thing flawed, she informed him it was a religious downside.
Any contact with individuals from exterior the household was carefully monitored, together with entry to a church youth group, and when the accused was given entry to electronics when he was 14 or 15, there was an app put in on the household laptop that might set off an alarm if he accessed one thing that was forbidden, he mentioned.
When he was lastly allowed to go to public highschool in Grade 11, he was socially awkward and didn’t make associates simply, he mentioned.
“My social expertise have been very unhealthy. I didn’t know what was acceptable to say and I assume in some methods, it was tradition shock.” He additionally mentioned he was bullied.
Consuming ‘conspiracy theories’
Veltman mentioned his decline started in September 2020, when he began “consuming a number of conspiracy theories” on-line.
“I felt suicidal despair which I had by no means felt to that excessive, besides briefly after I was 11 or 12,” he mentioned. “I didn’t know the right way to cope with it.”
He mentioned he watched “conspiracy rubbish and propaganda” on-line six or seven hours a day, movies in regards to the coronavirus, the New World Order and the reorganization of society. He mentioned he started to consider that processed meals was a organic weapon used to make individuals passive and compliant, so he destroyed a lot of the meals in his house.
“I began to compulsively destroy the issues I had in my house,” he mentioned, including he removed his TV, couch, arm chair, Ps and video video games within the hope purging the place he lived would assist him mentally.
The Crown has mentioned the killing was a results of the accused’s far-right ideology, developed over months of on-line “analysis” that included watching movies of mass killings and studying white supremacist manifestos left by these killers, together with instantly earlier than leaving his house the evening of the assault.
Earlier within the trial, the Crown learn out elements of the accused’s manifesto, entitled “A White Awakening,” which railed towards mass immigration, multiculturalism and perceived crimes towards white individuals.
The jury has additionally heard that the accused took psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, within the early hours of June 5, 2021, about 40 hours earlier than the assault on the Afzaal household.
Defence guarantees ‘compelling proof’
Additionally testifying through the defence case shall be Dr. Julian Gojer, Hicks mentioned.
Gojer is a forensic psychiatrist who will discuss persona issues, developmental issues and substance use issues, together with using psychedelics and the way they have an effect on individuals.
“Dr. Gojer is certified to speak about obsessive compulsive dysfunction, despair, psychosis, advanced trauma and different topics, however most significantly, as you will note, hallucinogenic substances,” Hicks informed the jury.
“You may consider all, half or none of what he says, however I counsel you will discover it compelling proof.”
The accused is scheduled to proceed testifying on Friday.