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Crown, defence spar over sentencing for ‘incel’ attacker Alexander Stavropoulos

Crown wants life for man who tried to kill a woman and her baby in a Sudbury parking lot, but defence lawyer argues 12 years is a suitable sentence — Stavropoulos expresses regret, apologizes during sentencing hearing
Sudbury Courthouse. (File)

The man who tried to kill a mother and her eight-month-old baby in a Sudbury parking lot two years ago deserves to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for at least 10 years, said Assistant Crown Attorney Leonard Kim on Monday.

But defence lawyer Nicholas Xynnis believes the man should be sentenced to no more than 12 years, especially, he said, since the accused showed significant remorse by pleading guilty.

Both lawyers presented arguments Monday at a Zoom teleconference sentencing hearing for 28-year-old Alexander Stavropoulos. This is the man who has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in the June 2019 incident where he attacked a woman and her child in a parking lot near and an arts and crafts store on Marcus Drive.

The case was argued before Ontario Regional Senior Justice Karen Lische of the Ontario Court of Justice.  After hearing several hours of testimony, Lische adjourned the case to Oct. 28, when she is expected to impose the sentence.

In his argument to the court, lawyer Kim said the case is attempted murder, but Stavropoulos deserves the same severity of sentencing as if the victims had actually died. Kim said for all intents the crime was a murder that failed because Stavropoulos dropped the utility knife he had been using as he attacked the mother, and bystanders were able to intervene to stop the attack as Stavropoulos began punching the baby.

Kim presented a comprehensive argument of 20 aggravating factors that he said demonstrated why Stavropoulos should get the toughest possible sentence. 

"The degree of planning and deliberation in this attack would have met the legal threshold for first degree murder, had Mr. Stavropoulos been successful in carrying out his intent to kill two innocent people that day," said Kim. 

In interviews after he was arrested, Stavropoulos told police he got on the bus that day with the intent to kill a young white girl, partly for the shock value he said, and also because he was angry that white women were having interracial relationships and that he had been rejected by white women when he tried to have a relationship.

Stavropoulos said he had planned to go to Canadian Tire to buy a hunting knife or a tactical knife. As it happened, Stavropoulos missed the stop at that store and instead ended up at the Home Depot where he was able to buy a utility knife, with a blade only two or three centimetres long.

He purchased the knife at 1:06 p.m. and waited in the parking lot, watching shoppers, until he launched his attack at about 3:41 p.m. on June 3.

Portions of the mother’s statement were read into the court record. In her statement, the woman said she was in the process of taking her baby out of the stroller to put the child in the car when she realized she was being attacked. Comments from the mother's statement were read out in court by Kim.

"At first I kind of thought he was going to punch me," the mother’s statement reads. "But once I saw the blood, I realized he had stabbed me in the back of the neck several times and I dropped down to the ground, and then he let go of me. He went straight to the stroller and then he started ... I don't know if he was punching or I thought he was stabbing, just wailing on my daughter. And I started screaming for help." 

Kim argued the crime was premeditated and that part of the Crown’s reasoning for a life sentence is that parole stipulations can be made that would address any other situations where Stavropoulos might present himself as being dangerous to society. Kim said he was not in favour of having Stavropoulos locked up indefinitely, but he still worried what the future would hold.

"My point is this: what do you do when there's no more community supervision or appropriate interventions?" Kim asked. He added that whatever sentence, the court would have to subtract the amount of time served in custody when Stavropoulos was arrested on June 3, 2019. 

If sentence is passed on Oct. 28, Stavropoulos will have served 878 days in custody. The court would have to credit that at 1.5 times the days served, which would be 1,317 days, or 3.6 years subtracted. 

"There's going to come a point in time when there is absolutely no community intervention or supervision of Mr. Stavropoulos in the community. That is a scary thought," said Kim. 

He argued that the psychiatric assessment regarded Stavropoulos as having a high chance of reoffending and committing another violent crime at some point in the future. Kim said without lengthy parole, Stavropoulos could be out in the community unsupervised.

"That is the danger," said Kim.

Xynnis disagreed. He said Kim's comments were dangerously close to suggesting that the accused should be put in jail forever because there is no way to control what he might do in the future. 

"That's not how our law works," Xynnis told the court.

The final comments in the sentencing hearing came from Stavropoulos. He apologized to the victim and her family and everyone else who was affected.  

"I regret what I did. I wish I could go back and not do it," said Stavropoulos. "Nothing I say can ever make up for what I did, but I am sorry and I hope her and her family somehow recover from the trauma that I created."