GUILTY VER­DICTS IN BEAT­ING DEATH

Noured­dine’s fa­ther: Vic­tim ‘could have been any­one … any Cana­dian ci­ti­zen’

Ottawa Sun - - FRONT PAGE - SAM PAZZANO spaz­[email protected]­media.com

TORONTO — Two men ac­cused of killing mu­sic jour­nal­ist and pho­tog­ra­pher Zack Noured­dine were found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter re­spec­tively by a jury af­ter less than a day of de­lib­er­a­tions.

Pa­trick Smith wiped away tears af­ter the jury ac­quit­ted him of first-de­gree mur­der but guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der Thurs­day.

Matthew Mor­eira ap­peared up­set as well af­ter he was ac­quit­ted of mur­der but con­victed of the lesser of­fence of man­slaugh­ter in the stomp­ing death of the 25-year-old vic­tim on Dec. 29, 2015.

Smith, 28, was also con­victed of as­sault­ing Noured­dine’s friend, Mitchell Con­ery, while Mor­eira, 34, was con­victed of rob­bing Con­ery dur­ing the in­ci­dent in mid­town Toronto.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed as I had hoped both would be con­victed of mur­der,” Noured­dine’s fa­ther, Has­san, said af­ter­ward.

“Our hope is that the judge sees fit to give th­ese killers the long­est sen­tence pos­si­ble,” the soft­ware engi­neer and fa­ther of three sons said.

“It wasn’t Zack they tar­geted — it could have been any­one. It could have been any Cana­dian ci­ti­zen and Zack just paid the price for be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Zack was an ex­tremely kind and gen­er­ous young man who used to feed the home­less he saw on the streets.”

The Crown al­leged Smith, Mor­eira and a third man, Will Cum­mins, com­mit­ted first-de­gree mur­der by killing Noured­dine while si­mul­ta­ne­ously rob­bing and un­law­fully con­fin­ing Con­ery.

The Crown con­tended it was an in­ten­tional mur­der, a vi­cious beat­ing com­mit­ted while the vic­tim was un­law­fully con­fined.

Con­ery tes­ti­fied he was sucker-punched by Cum­mins, lost his eye­glasses and re­mained on the ground while Noured­dine was beaten to death.

Mor­eira then put his foot on Con­ery and said, “Give me the wal­let and we’re done,” court heard. Con­ery had no wal­let. Cum­mins al­legedly joined Smith in punch­ing and knee­ing Noured­dine.

Smith also kicked the vic­tim in the head.

A tiny neck bone — be­tween the thick­ness of a dime and a nickel — was shat­tered, sev­er­ing an artery and caus­ing fa­tal bleed­ing, court heard.

Smith, Mor­eira and al­legedly Cum­mins were drink­ing heav­ily and smok­ing mar­i­juana, while Smith also con­sumed co­caine that night, the trial was told.

Cum­mins will have his own trial next year.

Noured­dine moved from Ot­tawa to Toronto a few years ear­lier to pur­sue his dreams.

In his clos­ing ar­gu­ment on Mon­day, Smith’s lawyer Chris Mor­ris said his client would have “had to know in his own mind … his ac­tions would likely, prob­a­bly cause death” to be con­victed of mur­der.

Judge Suhail Akhtar will sen­tence the two killers March 29, 2019.

BRUNO SCHLUMBERGER

Has­san Noured­dine, seen with art­work de­pict­ing his son Zack Noured­dine, says his son was “an ex­tremely kind and gen­er­ous young man” who left Ot­tawa to pur­sue his ca­reer in Toronto.

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