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Man accused in London, Ont., attack tells jury conspiracy theories warped his views

The person accused of killing 4 members of a Muslim household in an alleged act of terrorism advised a jury Friday that his thoughts was “corrupted” by on-line conspiracy theories and that he ultimately developed a need to have interaction in an act of violence.

In his second day of testimony, Nathaniel Veltman advised court docket that as his psychological state deteriorated in the course of the pandemic, he started consuming extra on-line content material that included unfounded conspiracies about COVID-19 and Muslims.

“This content material began to warp my view of the world,” he stated. “It was beginning to trigger this seething anger.”

The 22-year-old stated he was at all times drawn to “no matter was fringe and conspiracy associated,” however did not initially determine with quite a lot of the content material he was viewing.

He stated he tried to dam a number of the web sites he was visiting with an app initially meant to dam entry to pornography and even eliminated or destroyed a few of his digital gadgets, however he at all times went again to the disturbing content material. He stated he grew to become “addicted” to it.

“Slowly I grew to become desensitized to the offensive materials,” he testified.

On the stand within the Windsor, Ont., courtroom the place the trial is happening, Veltman has been detailing what he described as a means of psychological decline that began when he started spending quite a lot of time on the web within the early months of the pandemic.

As time went on and after two aborted makes an attempt to finish his life in March 2021, Veltman stated issues modified.

“I now not tried to keep away from the issues that I knew triggered one thing in me. I felt I had nothing to lose,” he stated.

Veltman stated his suicidal ideation “out of the blue morphed into one thing else.”

“(I had) need to have interaction in an act of violence and avenge these items that I used to be seeing,” he stated, referring to extreme-right web sites carrying baseless conspiracy theories about Muslims.

Veltman is accused of intentionally hitting the Afzaal household along with his truck in June 2021 whereas they had been out for a stroll in London, Ont.

Salman Afzaal, 46; his 44-year-old spouse, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, had been killed within the assault, whereas the couple’s nine-year-old son was severely harm however survived.

Veltman has pleaded not responsible to 4 counts of first-degree homicide and one depend of tried homicide.

Jurors have beforehand seen video of Veltman telling a detective that his assault had been motivated by white nationalist beliefs. The Crown has argued that Veltman deliberate an assault for 3 months and that his actions quantity to terrorism.

Veltman additionally advised the jury Friday about two cases wherein he took psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, in makes an attempt to manage.

He stated he took a “massive” quantity of magic mushrooms in April 2020 that made him hear “demonic voices” and writhe on the ground.

“I forgot who I used to be, I forgot the place I lived, I forgot what planet I used to be on … it was like a whole reminiscence wipe,” he testified.

Veltman stated he additionally consumed magic mushrooms on June 5, 2021, a day after his grandmother had died and he had gone to see her physique.

Veltman stated he was distraught over the dying of the girl he thought of his “substitute” mom and pressured a pal to provide him extra of the medication than the pal thought was protected for him to devour. He stated he was very disturbed on the time and needed to “escape” by taking psilocybin.

The assault on the Afzaal household occurred on June 6, 2021.

Veltman advised the jury on Thursday that he had a “fundamentalist” Christian upbringing marked by common punishments from his mom, which included spankings. He stated he was homeschooled till Grade 11 and the isolation from the broader group made him socially awkward and drawn to “outcasts” and “dangerous” crowds later in life.

Veltman’s case is the primary the place Canada’s terrorism legal guidelines are being put earlier than a jury in a first-degree homicide trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 13, 2023.

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