Accused in fatal truck attack on Muslim family asks London, Ont., court for legal aid

Accused in fatal truck attack on Muslim family asks London, Ont., court for legal aid-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
A memorial at the scene of the accident, at the intersection of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road in London, Ont., after a Muslim family was hit by a truck. Four of the five died. (Greg Bruce/CBC)

The 20-year-old charged in the fatal truck attack of a Muslim family in London, Ont., appeared in court via video link from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre on Thursday morning and asked to apply for legal aid. 

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Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London was charged Monday, a day after the attack, with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez, survived and remains in hospital. A funeral has been planned for Saturday afternoon.

Wearing a large orange jail-issued T-shirt, orange pants and a disposable blue mask, Veltman stated his name as Nate Veltman and gave his date of birth, Dec. 20, 2000. His charges were not read out and Veltman did not enter a plea.

The accused, who was represented by duty counsel at his first hearing Monday, told the court Thursday he has been speaking to London lawyer Damon Hardy, but has not yet officially retained him.

Veltman also said he needs to apply for legal aid. A representative for Hardy read out a cellphone number that Veltman can call from jail to be in touch with the firm. A guard handed Veltman a piece of paper, and at the end of the hearing, Veltman gave the crumpled note to another guard. For the duration of the hearing, which lasted a few minutes, the accused stood with his hands clasped in front of him.

The accused’s lawyers asked for the case to return to court on June 17, but Crown prosecutors requested June 14, which the judge granted.

No-contact order

On Sunday, the family of five was out for an evening walk in northwest London when a black truck left the road and drove into the family as they were waiting to cross the street at a red light. It marked the first mass killing in the city’s history, in a case that has caused fear in the Muslim community.

Police say the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith, and they’re in touch with RCMP and prosecutors about the possibility of filing terrorism charges against Veltman. In court Monday, nothing was mentioned about any other possible charges.
Nathaniel Veltmen-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Nathaniel Veltmen, 20, in a sketch from his appearance via video from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre on Thursday. (Sketch by Pam Davies)

Since his arrest less than 10 kilometres from the scene, Veltman has been housed at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.

At the time, the justice of the peace issued a no-contact order between Veltman and two dozen people, including bystanders at the scene.

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