For trying to kill his ex-wife, mailing three bombs within the city, and causing an explosion that cost a local lawyer her hand, a former Winnipeg autobody mechanic has been sentenced to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least 17 years.

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For trying to kill his ex-wife, mailing three bombs within the city, and causing an explosion that cost a local lawyer her hand, a former Winnipeg autobody mechanic has been sentenced to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least 17 years.

Guido Amsel, 52, was silent as he was led out of a full courtroom after hearing the judge's decision Thursday afternoon.

Guido Amsel

Guido Amsel

In a decision that called out Amsel's "extremely calculated" plan to create and mail out potentially lethal explosives, his repeated attempts to kill his ex-wife, and his conspiracy theories against the justice system, provincial court Judge Tracey Lord also recognized the "strength and resilience" of Maria Mitousis, who lost her hand in an explosion after she opened a package Amsel sent her.

"Mr. Amsel is not remorseful. He has not taken responsibility for his actions and continues to deny involvement in the offences," Lord said in her decision, which was broadcast live from the courtroom by Global TV. "He has attempted to place responsibility on others for these offences and alleges corruption at all levels of the justice system as an explanation for his present circumstances.

Maria Mitousis

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Maria Mitousis

"His rehabilitation is questionable at best."

Lord imposed a life sentence Amsel can only begin serving once he's spent the next seven years in prison, and she decided he won't be allowed to apply for parole until he's served 10 years of his life sentence.

In the meantime, Amsel will serve what's left of a 12-year sentence for causing an explosion in front of the home he once shared with his ex-wife on Dec. 13, 2013, in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements. No one was hurt, and the incident went unsolved until Amsel mailed a series of bombs in Winnipeg, 2 1/2 years later.

Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord

Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord

"His rehabilitation is questionable at best." – Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord

Amsel was convicted on four counts of attempted murder for twice targeting his ex-wife and two lawyers with homemade explosives designed to spew shrapnel. He believed his ex-wife, who was also his business partner, was stealing from him and he developed a "personal vendetta" against her and the civil lawyers who were representing them, Lord ruled.

The scene on River Avenue on July 3, 2015 was chaotic after a bomb sent by Guido Amsel to the  Petersen and King Law Office. As a result, lawyer Maria Mitousis lost her hand.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The scene on River Avenue on July 3, 2015 was chaotic after a bomb sent by Guido Amsel to the Petersen and King Law Office. As a result, lawyer Maria Mitousis lost her hand.

The lawyers were targeted "simply for doing their jobs," Lord said.

"The proper discharge of their professional responsibilities within the justice system was taken and distorted by Mr. Amsel to fit neatly into the conspiracy he already believed about his ex-wife," she said.

He was given credit for slightly more than five years' worth of pretrial time in custody since his arrest in July 2015, a day after the explosion at the River Avenue law office alerted city police to two other explosive packages waiting to be opened by Iris Amsel and George Orle, a senior lawyer at the firm that represented Guido Amsel in a civil dispute with his ex-wife.

Amsel's family is adamant he was framed and an innocent man is being sent to prison. Outside the courtroom, his current wife was tearful as she contemplated what to tell the couple's two young sons. She said she didn't want her name published out of a desire to protect the children.

The family is considering launching an appeal, she said, but doesn't know if they'll be able to afford legal costs.

Following the bomb blast that claimed Mitousis' hand, city police responded to a string of bomb threats with a bomb robot, including a one on St. Anne's Road and Bank Avenue on July 8.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Following the bomb blast that claimed Mitousis' hand, city police responded to a string of bomb threats with a bomb robot, including a one on St. Anne's Road and Bank Avenue on July 8.

"We're very devastated by the result," she said, surrounded by supporters. "I hope for the best. It's hard."

During Amsel's lengthy trial last year, the judge was told the timing of the bombs in 2013 and in 2015 matched up with the timing of court disputes between the former couple.

Timeline

July 2, 2015: A Canada Post letter carrier delivers a bubble-wrapped package addressed to Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis at the Petersen King office at 252 River Ave. The package remains unopened until the next day. It is placed on Mitousis's desk until her return to the office.

July 3, 2015: An explosion severely injures Mitousis and shatters windows at the law office after the package is opened. Mitousis loses her right hand. The bomb was disguised inside a voice recorder that purported to contain audio that would help with her "defence."

July 2, 2015: A Canada Post letter carrier delivers a bubble-wrapped package addressed to Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis at the Petersen King office at 252 River Ave. The package remains unopened until the next day. It is placed on Mitousis's desk until her return to the office.

July 3, 2015: An explosion severely injures Mitousis and shatters windows at the law office after the package is opened. Mitousis loses her right hand. The bomb was disguised inside a voice recorder that purported to contain audio that would help with her "defence."

July 4, 2015: A package addressed to Guido Amsel's ex-wife, Iris Amsel, explodes after being shot with a police bomb robot's water cannon at 597 Washington Ave. The explosive device appeared to be within a notebook. Guido Amsel is arrested as a suspect.

July 5, 2015: A package addressed to lawyer George Orle at 280 Stradbrook Ave. is also detonated by a police bomb squad robot. That explosive was hidden within an electronic greeting card.

July 6, 2015: Amsel is charged with the three explosions. He would later be charged with a fourth explosion that happened Dec. 13, 2013 at his ex-wife's home in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements.

Summer 2015: WPS continues to investigate several reports of suspicious packages in the city, one of which turns out to be a chocolate Easter bunny. No other explosive packages are found.

Sept. 9, 2015: Amsel is denied bail.

Feb. 25, 2016: Amsel's request for an out-of-province judge to hear his case is denied in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench.

May 12, 2016: Amsel is denied bail for a second time. He remains in custody awaiting trial.

September 2017: Amsel's provincial court trial begins. He pleads not guilty to 19 criminal charges, including five counts of attempted murder stemming from the bombings. The trial continues intermittently over the next four months, hearing from more than 40 witnesses.

Dec. 19, 2017: Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord hears closing arguments from lawyers and reserves her decision.

April 6, 2018: A decision date is arranged for May 17 for Lord to deliver her verdict.

May 17: The guilty verdict is handed down.

June 6: After he was found guilty, Amsel fired his defence lawyers and announced in court he was getting new legal representation and planned to appeal the judge’s decision.

Oct. 3: The Crown seeks a life sentence plus an additional 15 years for Amsel, while his new defence lawyer argues it would be “crushing” for Amsel if he gets no chance of parole for 25 years. Defence asks for a 20- to 25-year sentence.

Nov. 22: Amsel is sentenced to life in prison, and is not expected to be eligible for parole until at least 2035.

Their civil suit was on the verge of being resolved in Iris Amsel's favour in July 2015. She had taken Guido Amsel to court in 2010 over $40,000 he owed her after their business partnership was dissolved. He launched a counterclaim, accusing Iris of stealing almost $4 million from the business they co-owned, Euro Tech Autobody.

At trial, Guido Amsel accused his ex-wife of framing him for the explosions -- a baseless accusation, the judge decided.

Iris Amsel took the stand last year to testify and denied her ex-husband's allegations. Their business, she said, was never as profitable as he claimed. She wasn't present in court Thursday, and didn't submit a statement to court about how Guido Amsel's crimes affected her.

"One can only imagine the impact of knowing that a former spouse has tried to kill you not once, but twice," Lord said, describing the domestic-violence roots of the case as an aggravating factor.

Among those in the full courtroom Thursday were Mitousis, police officers and lawyers, marking the end of a three-year case that raised alarm about safety concerns in the legal community and sparked widespread public panic over suspicious packages in the city.

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Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.