POLITICS

Mall killer denies Eaton Centre gun rampage was revenge for prior attack

11/24/2014 11:44 EST | Updated 01/24/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - A man accused of a revenge shooting in a crowded downtown food court testified Monday to having earlier been the victim of a terrifying attack that almost killed him and left him paranoid and bewildered.

Speaking in his own defence, Christopher Husbands said he didn't believe the attack was because he'd had sex with the mother of one of his assailants as the prosecution suggested, but said he didn't know what their beef was.

"To this day, I don't understand," Husbands told Ontario Superior Court.

Husbands, now 25, of Toronto, has admitted to opening fire at the landmark Eaton Centre in June 2012, killing two people, injuring five others, and sparking panic and chaos.

However, he denies going to the mall intending to kill anyone, and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

The prosecution contends the shooting was deliberate payback for an incident months earlier in which several men stabbed and robbed Husbands at an east-end home.

Among the assailants was Nixon Nirmalendran, 22, one of the two mall victims, and a man whose mother Husbands had slept with.

Husbands, a father of a six-year-old girl he saw regularly, said he had known Nirmalendran since Grade 7.

"I've heard rumours that he had a problems with me, but I don't know why he would have a problem with me because I never really do anything to this guy," Husbands told the five-man, seven-woman jury.

On a night in February 2012, Husbands went to deliver marijuana to Nirmalendran. On the way, he picked up cigars, juice and a bag of chips.

He was set upon as soon as he entered the apartment, he testified. Several men dragged him into an empty bedroom.

They punched him. They taped his legs, his hands, his face. At one point, an attacker held a gun to his head. Their faces covered, he said, they accused him of being a "snake" and disrespecting them.

"Tell me, how is this my fault? You guys are the snakes," he said he retorted.

One of the attackers smashed him in the mouth with the butt of the gun, cracking his tooth.

They tried to drag him to the bathroom. He thought they were going to try to drown him. A melee ensued. Husbands said he felt a "heavy" blow that cracked his eye socket.

"I just gave up my fight," he said, speaking clearly and calmly.

"I'm just laying there. I'm thinking when is this going to end? I'm not having fun obviously."

He felt what appeared to be punches to his back.

"My body was twitching. It all starts to get weird."

Nirmalendran and his brother Nissan were standing over him, he said. They then left and everything fell quiet. He realized he'd been stabbed.

"I start feeling like water, water all over me."

Husbands managed to make it outside before collapsing in the middle of the street in a pool of blood. He was taken to hospital.

Defence lawyer Dirk Derstine showed court photographs from the attack, including ones of Husbands' bloodied tuque lying on the floor and a blood-stained bathroom.

Husbands refused to name his attackers to police.

"In the street lifestyle," he said. "it's a very dangerous thing to do."

He also said the attack left him stressed, highly fearful, unable to work. He suffered intense flashbacks. But he denied ever telling his child's mother that he wanted to "get these guys."

In earlier testimony, Husbands described immigrating to Canada at age 11 and, despite loftier career aspirations, fell into drug dealing in his gritty Regent Park neighbourhood.

"I seen what was going on and I guess I wanted some money," he said.

The trial continues Tuesday.