Assistant Crown attorney Leonard Kim told the court on Day 2 of the sentencing hearing for Alexander Stavropoulos they are seeking a life sentence, but still have to finalize ineligibility for parole.
Kim said following almost six hours of testimony on Sept. 3 he will be making submissions based on hate-motivated sentencing, as well as offences against children.
Stavropoulos’ defence team of Nicholas Xynnis and Glenn Sandberg said they are still finalizing their submissions for sentencing, but will be seeking a sentence in the range of eight to 12 years, minus the time Stavropoulos has been incarcerated since he was arrested on June 3, 2019.
He has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and one count of breaching probation
Ontario Court Justice Karen Lische is presiding over the sentencing hearing.
Day 2 saw the continuation of testimony from Dr. Jonathan Gray, the forensic psychiatrist who helped author the 67-page report commissioned by the court for a dangerous offender application.
His testimony focused on Stavropoulos’ risk to reoffend violently.
Stavropoulos is at a high risk of reoffending violently, concluded the authors of the report.
Gray said there are many different ways to assess risk, although they almost all work on the same principle.
Gray used the Violence Risk Assessment Guide Revised (VRAG-R) tool to determine Stavropoulos’ risk to reoffend violently. It determines which characteristics in violent offenders are most likely to lead to them committing another violent offence. The more risk factors the person in front of you shares with the population of people who reoffend, the more likely they will be to reoffend in the future.
Offenders are given a score ranging from -32, the least likely to reoffend, to +40, the most likely to reoffend.
Stavropoulos scored a +17, putting him in the 79th percentile, meaning 79 per cent of offenders would have a lower risk of reoffending than Stavropoulos.
That score also puts Stavropoulos in what Gray called “bin seven of nine.” There are nine “bins” or levels that determine if an offender is likely to reoffend. Levels seven to nine are high risk to reoffend violently.
Stavropoulos is at level seven.
Gray said 41 per cent of offenders that were part of the study population to develop the original VRAG tool (which followed more than 600 violent offenders) committed another violent offence within five years of being released from prison, while 71 per cent reoffended within 15 years.
Gray and the two psychologists diagnosed Stavropoulos with major depressive disorder, alcohol use disorder, cannabis use disorder, hallucinogen use disorder, and substance abuse psychotic disorder.
Stavropoulos exhibits three out of eight factors psychologists flagged as warning behaviors in the Terrorist Radicalized Assessment Protocol 18 (TRAP-18), said Gray. Those behaviours include his fixation with a particular group of people or cause (“he feels he is under attack from other races, and he has to fight back to protect the white race,” said Gray), as well as his identification with a previous attacker (the man in Toronto who identified with the incel movement).
In reading from the report, Gray said Stavropoulos “likely acted out of desperation” in reference to what is known as “last resort,” one of the warning behaviours of TRAP-18, during the stabbing, when he told himself he just had to do it.
Gray said when he question Stavropoulos about his distaste toward interracial couples, he clarified what bothers him most was when a “white woman was in a relationship with a Black man,” and it bothered him somewhat less to see a “white woman dating an Asian man, or an Asian woman dating a Black man,” but to some extent, even those relationships bothered him.
Stavropoulos told Gray that in order to stop interracial relationshios, he would have to kill white people to end interracial mixing.”
Stavropoulos told several stories about why he moved to Sudbury in 2018. He said he no longer wanted to live in Toronto because it had become too multicultural, and he wanted to come to Sudbury where there were more caucasian people.
His inability to always tell the truth was the subject of a letter from his own mother, the court heard, who said “Alexander has the ability to tell you what you want to hear, and we never know the truth, or his truths keep changing.”
“Is it fair to say that individuals involved in interracial relationships might be at risk from being attack by Mr. Stavropoulos,” Kim asked.
“You would think they might be a target based on his underlying, most problematic beliefs that led to this offence,” Gray said. “That being said, the victim in this case, there was no evidence to suggest he would think that person was in an interracial relationship. She wasn’t with a partner at the time.”
Stavropoulos was angry at white women for dating people of other races, and he was directing that anger towards a child for “shock value,” and the woman was collateral damage because in order to get to the child, he felt he had to incapacitate the mother, Gray said.
Gray said he has done a lot of dangerous offender reports, and none of them have had “shock value” as a motivation for their offence.
By the time Gray met with Stavropoulos in June 2020, he said Stavropoulos no longer felt that way.
In both the 2018 transit terminal attack and the 2019 stabbing, it is reported that Stavropoulos may have been under the influence of substances including hallucinogenic mushrooms, as well as alcohol and marijuana, but this is based solely on Stavropoulos’ self reporting, said Kim.
For the transit terminal attack, Stavropoulos told the court he was in a marijuana-induced psychosis when he attacked the security guard, however, in his interview with police following his arrest in 2019, he said that was a complete “fabrication,” and that he only said that because he was trying to get a lighter sentence.
As a result, he was sentenced to four months but got time served for the days he had already spent behind bars.
Psychologists made seven recommendations to mitigate Stavropoulos’ risk of reoffending, and they include substance abuse treatment, psychiatric treatment, psychotherapy intervention, psycho education on the effects of drugs, social skills training, violence prevention programming and coping skills.
“Do you agree the implementation of these are largely dependent on Mr. Stavropoulos’ willingness to participate in them,” Kim asked.
“A risk assessment isn’t just about what the person’s risk is to reoffend, it’s also what we can do to mitigate that risk. We have people who have a very small number of risk factors, but they aren’t amenable to treatment, and that might be more dangerous than someone who has a lot of risk factors, but who is amenable to treatment.
“We talked about Mr. Stavropoulos’ baseline risk being high, but that doesn’t mean the risk can’t be managed,” said Gray.
Sentencing submissions will take place Sept. 27 at 10 a.m.