TORONTO — A man who pleaded guilty to the incel-inspired murder of a Toronto massage parlour employee has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
The man, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time of the attack, has also been sentenced to three years behind bars for attempted murder, to be served concurrently.
He pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder and attempted murder in the February 2020 stabbing that killed 24-year-old Ashley Noelle Arzaga and seriously injured a woman identified only by the initials J.C.
In June, Justice Sukhail Akhtar ruled that the stabbing amounted to an act of terrorism due to its links to so-called "incel" ideology, which stands for "involuntary celibate," a fringe internet subculture dominated by men who blame women for their lack of sexual relations.
It's believed to be the first time in Canada that a court has made a finding of incel-motivated terrorist activity.
Prosecutors wanted him sentenced as an adult, noting he was six months shy of turning 18 at the time and meticulously researched, planned and made choices surrounding the attack that reflected adult thoughts and actions. They also argued he has shown no remorse.
Adults found guilty of first-degree murder face an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, but the parole ineligibility is lower in this case because he was underage at the time of the offence.
The defence, meanwhile, sought to have the man sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which sets a limit of 10 years.
At a hearing last month, the man apologized to Arzaga's family and friends, and to the surviving victim. The man, now 20, also said he has changed and no longer hates women.
"I've come to realize that life is so much more than just internet negativity ... I wish I could travel back in time and talk some sense into my former self," he said.
The court heard he planned to seek out women to violently attack with a 17-inch sword after he was radicalized with misogynistic views online.
It also heard J.C. managed to take the sword from him and incapacitate him, which prosecutors said brought the attack to an end. The woman suffered stab wounds, lacerations to both hands and nerve damage as she fought, court heard.
In their victim impact statements, Arzaga's siblings had asked Akhtar to consider the safety of their family's surviving members and the safety of other women in his sentencing decision.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2023.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press