A 33-year-old man was found not guilty of attempted murder on Thursday after prosecutors said he stabbed his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend several times during a festival clash over a puppy.
The trial of Fahd Yahya Al-Ubaidy came down to whether prosecutors could show the attack was intended to cause “ill will, serious injury, or death”, as required under the manslaughter or attempted murder laws of the British legal system.
One of the most bizarre elements of the case, which played out in April at the CitiFest Festival in Yorkville in north Toronto, was the evidence that Al-Ubaidy kept a knife in his pocket during the altercation in his ex-girlfriend’s car.
The incident began after Al-Ubaidy stabbed the new boyfriend while he was driving with his family. Al-Ubaidy grabbed the knife as a defence witness testified that the woman had been “rude and arguing” in the car.
The new boyfriend, Hassan Mohammadi, tried to drive off but Al-Ubaidy allegedly grabbed the knife from his pocket and lunged for the door as it opened. Al-Ubaidy was convicted of attempted murder in April and jailed for eight years.
After Al-Ubaidy was acquitted, lawyers cried foul, pointing out that prosecutors had not offered Al-Ubaidy any sort of promise on a no-parole sentence.
“I say, give him a break,” said the defence lawyer Ken Norris. “Give him a chance. He’s a smart guy, he has a lot of support. There’s a real good chance he’ll become a productive citizen when he gets out of prison.”
Last year an Ontario woman was stabbed in a fight at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ game while police were in the process of arresting her ex-boyfriend. Speaking to the judge in that case, the woman described hearing the screams of her daughter and seeing her attacker stabbing her former partner – and being stabbed in the back.
Defence lawyers argued the two cases were very different. “Mr Al-Ubaidy thought he was going to die and instead he’s going to live,” said Norris.
“He thought he was going to kill the guy and instead he’s going to live – there’s no question about that. There’s no question about the sincere remorse he has demonstrated in terms of his actions.”
The defence also highlighted the psychological evidence presented by the Crown prosecutor.
“He has a good childhood, a wonderful mother,” said the defence. “The point is he didn’t mean to kill the guy, he had a head snapped back into a place where he thought he was going to lose consciousness and he didn’t and he didn’t.
“He’s not a monster, he’s a bit of a jerk,” said Norris. “That’s why the knife kept in his pocket – it’s why he went into the car with a knife in his pocket – he’s a little bit of a jerk, an attention hog, but not a monster.”
The court ruled that the evidence was sufficient to convict Al-Ubaidy of attempted murder. But the Crown could not prove he had intended to cause Mohammadi serious bodily harm, especially since they believe the victim did not suffer a “serious injury”.
A planned appeal by Mohammadi has been set for the fall.
• This article was amended on 27 June 2016. An earlier version gave the wrong first name for the new boyfriend’s father. This has been corrected.