WINNIPEG — A judge on Thursday found a Manitoba man guilty of attempting to murder his former wife and two lawyers when he sent them letter bombs.
Guido Amsel was arrested and charged after three explosive packages were found in July 2015. Maria Mitousis, a lawyer who had represented Amsel's ex-wife, Iris, in a financial dispute, lost her right hand when one of the bombs went off in her office.
"There is expert evidence, which I accept, that the devices in question were all capable of not only causing bodily harm but were potentially lethal," Judge Tracey Lord said in handing down her verdict in a Winnipeg courtroom.
Lord said she was satisfied that DNA evidence found at the crime scenes belonged to Amsel and that he was the one who sent the explosive devices. She rejected defence arguments as to how his DNA could have come to be there.
She said she also believed he planted a device that went off outside Iris Amsel's home in December 2013.
Lord rejected Guido Amsel's testimony in his own defence and said his explanation that he was being framed by his wife wasn't credible.
"His explanations are entirely too remote and coincidental ... to be credible."
Amsel said "I can't believe that" as he was led from the court.
The judge said she concluded he wanted to hurt his wife and the lawyers for their role in a contentious lawsuit he had filed over profits from an auto-body shop they had co-owned.
He dropped the lawsuit shortly before the letter bombs were sent.
"I am satisfied based on Mr. Amsel's conspiratorial beliefs about those involved in his civil legal proceedings that he had motive to harm them by sending explosive devices," Lord said.
"His motive was to punish them for their respective roles in the outcome."
The explosive compound that injured Mitousis was contained in a hand-held voice recorder that came with a note instructing her to press play.
The letter bomb sent to Mitousis was the only one that exploded. The other two were safely detonated by police.
The 2013 bomb that went off outside Iris Amsel's home left a crater in the frozen ground.
The trial heard that Amsel was convinced his former wife had stolen millions of dollars from him following their 2004 divorce as they continued to co-manage their business. A lawsuit was filed and, after years of legal wrangling, Guido Amsel dropped the matter a few months before the explosions.
He testified that he thought his ex-wife had stolen the money and that he came to believe she and Mitousis had paid off one of his lawyers, Sara MacEachern, to withdraw from the case.
MacEachern's senior partner, George Orle, was one of the bomb targets.
Amsel also told court he believed his ex-wife sent all the bombs to frame him.
Amsel's DNA was found at two of the bomb sites, but his lawyer, Saheel Zaman, said it could have been left there by other means. He pointed out that Amsel had browsed extensively through files at Mitousis's office during legal proceedings after his lawyer dropped him and he represented himself. Zaman suggested Amsel's DNA could have spread from the files to other areas during the explosion.
DNA found on string in the bomb crater at Iris Amsel's home could have been from years earlier when Guido Amsel had lived there and used string to plant trees and build a driveway, Zaman added.