(National Post) Guyanese Christopher Husbands had a busy day on June 2, 2012. He had lunch with an old teacher. He smoked some pot. He bought a new jacket. And then, while waiting for his girlfriend to pay for dinner, he murdered two men.
On Dec. 17, one week to the day before Christmas Eve, a Toronto jury found Husbands’ guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the public killings of Ahmed Hassan and Nixon Nirmalendran. He was also convicted of five counts of aggravated assault, one count criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count reckless discharge of a firearm.
After deliberating for just over a day, the jury rejected outright Husbands’ core defence. His lawyers had argued at trial he should be found not criminally responsible because he was in a fugue state brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder when he committed the crime.
The jurors also declined to find Husbands guilty of the greater charge of first-degree murder, believing, in the end, that he had not planned the public shooting, or at least that the Crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he had.
On a busy Saturday afternoon two years ago, Husbands fired 14 rounds from an automatic pistol into the bustling food court at one of Canada’s busiest malls. The gunshots caused a near riot. Terrified customers fled in panic. A pregnant woman, nearly trampled, went into labour. Connor Stevenson, a 13-year-old boy, took a bullet to the skull.
When the chaos cleared, Hassan and Nirmalendran lay bloodied, their bodies torn apart, on the food court floor. Hassan, hit by four bullets, died right away. Nirmalendran, once his killer’s good friend, hung on for several days before succumbing to his wounds.
The attack was an act of revenge. Three months before the killings, Husbands was lured to an apartment in Regent Park, where he was pulled inside, bound with tape, beaten with pistol butts and stabbed 22 times.
During the trial, Husbands identified Nirmalendran and his brother, Nisan Nirmalendran as two of his attackers that day.