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Jury hears of messy apartment, strange note at London, Ont. attack trial

Warning: Readers may find the contents of this story disturbing.

An apartment with personal items strewn about the floor and a note on a table stating speeds and percentages were among the items photographed and described by police officers as the trial continues for the man accused of intentionally running over a Muslim family in London, Ont.

Nathaniel Veltman, 22, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the June 6, 2021 incident.

Det. Const. Richard Veerman was the first officer to enter Veltman’s downtown London apartment.  Photos presented to the jury show a garbage bin overflowing, drawers and cabinets left open and an unmade bed with personal items strewn about.

Veerman also executed a search warrant on Veltman’s truck and photographed significant front-end damage, clothing stuck between the hood and the vehicle as well as human tissue later identified through DNA to belong to Talat Afzaal, 74. Inside the truck, he testified that he found a six-inch serrated knife, an airsoft pistol that looked like a handgun, a 2.5-inch serrated knife with a curved blade and a 12-inch machete with a curved blade in a sheath.

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Discussion of Veltman’s apartment continued Tuesday with Det. Michael Budzyn telling court that he was also involved in inspecting the truck and apartment. He provided additional information about various personal items found inside of a cabinet, like a wallet and keys, but he also mentioned a piece of paper on a table with a list of speeds and percentages. The note said “20 mph = 5%/65%  30%”, “30 mph = 45%/50%          5%” and “40 mph = 85%/15%”.

Additionally, Budzyn conceded to defence questioning that the truck looked black but is actually dark blue.

Tuesday afternoon, Const. Sarah Cochrane told the jury that she was the first officer to make contact with Veltman after the Afzaal family was struck.

She said she was dispatched to Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road but made her own decision to make her way to Cherryhill Mall after learning that the suspect was there.

She arrived to a taxicab driver flagging her down and Veltman moving to his knees and placing his hands on his head.

“This position is a position of disadvantage. When police are arresting a suspect, we look for a position of disadvantage to ensure that we are safe. So when he was placing himself in this position prior to us asking him to, I was concerned.”

She ordered Veltman to get on the ground on his stomach with his arms out to make a T shape in order to “gauge for compliance to see if he was going to follow my orders.”

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“Did he comply?” the Crown asked.

“Yes, he did.”

Veltman was arrested and searched and she discovered he had a bulletproof vest on. When asked by the Crown if there were any other police there at the time in additional to one other constable she previously mentioned, she said it was possible but she doesn’t remember any others on scene at that time.

She also described Veltman’s demeanor as “happy.”

“He was smiling, he was looking around. He didn’t appear upset.”

Veltman was placed in the back of her cruiser, she testified. She briefly left the vehicle to speak with a supervisor and noticed Veltman, with his hands cuffed behind his back, give the “OK” symbol out the window. The Anti-Defamation League lists it as a racist hand sign, though it notes that in most contexts use of the symbol is innocuous and harmless.

Her testimony as Crown witness concluded with her discussing their arrival at police headquarters before taking out of police bags and holding up for the jury the camo-coloured vest and dark green helmet Veltman was wearing at the time.

The defence will have the opportunity to question Const. Cochrane on Wednesday.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna, and her grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the London attack. The couple’s nine-year-old son was also seriously hurt but survived.

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The trial, which is taking place in Windsor, Ont., is expected to last six more weeks, including the remainder of this week.

— with files from Global News’ Ben Harrietha

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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