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The "indiscriminate terrorism" of mailing bombs to his ex-wife and local lawyers calls for a former Winnipeg auto mechanic to serve a life sentence in prison, Crown prosecutors argued Wednesday.
Guido Amsel's repeated targeting of his ex-wife, Iris Amsel, means he should be sentenced to an additional 15 years on top of his life sentence, with no chance of parole for 10 years, Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft argued. Defence lawyers are seeking a 20 to 25 year sentence, saying the Crown's request amounts to life in prison without parole eligibility for 25 years and would be "crushing" to Amsel, who continues to deny he had anything to do with the four explosions that caused chaos in and around the city.
"Postal workers had to sweep all of the mail in Winnipeg, law firms were on high alert, suspicious package calls increased to the Winnipeg Police Service, and, to put it bluntly, these bombs affected the life of an entire city," Vanderhooft said.
The 52-year-old was found guilty in May of 15 criminal charges, including four counts of attempted murder for twice trying to kill his ex-wife and mailing explosives to the lawyers who represented them in a civil dispute. Amsel was convicted of causing an explosion in front of the home he and Iris once shared in the RM of St. Clements. He wasn't criminally charged in the December 2013 incident until after a series of three explosive packages were mailed in Winnipeg in July 2015.
The first of the explosive packages was opened by lawyer Maria Mitousis, who received a bubble-wrapped package containing a voice recorder and a note that instructed her to "press enter" to hear information that would "help with defence." The explosion at her River Avenue law office seriously hurt Mitousis, who represented Iris Amsel in a business dispute against Amsel, and resulted in the amputation of her right hand.
The other two explosive packages, addressed to Iris Amsel and George Orle, the senior lawyer at the firm that represented Guido in the civil dispute, were discovered and handled by police bomb squad robots. They exploded, without hurting anyone, after being shot with water cannons.
"Ms. Mitousis, because she happened to stop by her office and check her mail, saved others from a similar fate," Vanderhooft said.
Exactly three years and three months since the explosion, Mitousis spoke in front of a full courtroom Wednesday. She read aloud a prepared victim impact statement, saying she wants Amsel to know she never thinks about him outside of the court process, and that after this is over, he will "disappear" from her consciousness.
"I've concluded that his deliberate, carefully thought-out plan to cause pain, fear and chaos are the actions of a coward. It pains me that my life has intersected with someone who, by his own selfishness, arrogance and need to exert power over others, chose violence to leave his mark," she said.
Mitousis said she's returned to work full-time, has endured hours of rehabilitation and still deals with a constant "dull, throbbing" pain in her residual limb. She can still sense her lost fingers and thumb clenched into a tight fist, and she said she longs to be able to relieve the pressure by stretching out her lost hand. But she said she doesn't want to dwell in dark places.
"I also believe that it would please the person who caused this harm to know the details of the pain and the damage that he's caused, and I shall not allow him the satisfaction of that," she said.
Iris Amsel and Orle both decided not to submit victim impact statements to the court.
Amsel's conspiracy theories factored heavily into his sentencing hearing Wednesday as Vanderhooft read excerpts from a 20-page letter Amsel wrote to the justice minister, the Independent Investigation Unit, the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association of Manitoba, RCMP professional standards "and others" after provincial court Judge Tracey Lord convicted him in May.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Press, Amsel says all of those involved in his case -- from police to his former defence lawyers to the judge -- participated in corruption and conspired to frame him.
"My belief: all of this was planned, premeditated, thought through and carried out from a large group of people right to the top, our federal (sic) judge Tracey Lord," Amsel's letter says.
Defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn acknowledged Amsel hasn't shown any remorse or apologized. He suggested the judge consider that a lack of a mitigating factor rather than an aggravating one while she considers the sentence. Lord is expected to deliver her decision Nov. 22.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.