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How arrogance and mistakes led to Shafia's murder conviction Add to ...

He also tried to explain away the “murder” inquiries on his father's laptop by saying he had probably done them himself. He had been feeling depressed, he told the jury, speaking in fluent English, and had been contemplating suicide. But he wasn't sure about the word for “suicide” and had probably typed in “murder” instead.

In his closing instructions to the jury, Mr. Justice Robert Maranger briefly recounted that testimony. As he did so, the son - now a spectator in the courtroom - broke into a broad grin.

But of all the foolish moves made by the three killers, nothing stands out more than Hamed Shafia's extraordinary account of what happened at the Kingston Mills locks that night.

In all, the jury was given four versions.

The first was that it was murder.

The second was that while staying at the motel, the victims took the Nissan for the unauthorized spin and had their accident.

The third, provided by Ms. Yahya in a police interrogation – and retracted the next day – was that all three defendants had indeed been at the locks that night. Ms. Yahya was walking with Hamed along a dark road, she said, when she heard the splash of the Nissan tipping into the lock. But how it happened she could not say, because she immediately fainted.

Then came story number four.

The biggest problem for the defendants, by far, were the shards of headlight plastic found at the lock's edge.

But four months after the murders, while incarcerated at the Quinte Detention Centre, west of Kingston, Hamed came up with an explanation.

He was speaking to an interpreter-turned-private-investigator, Afghan expatriate Moosa Hadi, hired by his father.

And in a taped statement to Mr. Hadi – a keen supporter of the defendants and subsequently subpoeaned as a Crown witness – Hamed gave this rendition of events:

The women had, indeed, taken the Nissan for a drive, with Zainab at the wheel, and out of brotherly concern for his sisters, he had followed them in the Lexus.

They ended up at the locks, a few minutes drive from the hotel, where an unfortunate incident occurred: On the roadway he rear-ended the Nissan with the Lexus. That's how the headlight got smashed. And he was just picking up the pieces when Zainab drove away.

Then Hamed heard the splash of the Nissan going into the water. So with the headlight splinters in his hands he rushed to the side of the lock, where he dropped the pieces.

What did he do then? Not much. He peered into the lock. He called out his sisters' names. He honked the Lexus's horn. He dangled a rope over the side of the lock. Silence.

So he got back into the Lexus and headed for Montreal, where, by his own admission, he staged a one-car accident that would account for the damaged headlight. Then he returned to Kingston, where he and his parents walked into the police station to say the four women had vanished.

While there, the Shafias were told their missing Nissan had been discovered at the lock and that there appeared to be a dead body inside.

“Only one?” Ms. Yahya responded.

Hamed never called 911 to say his sisters and father's first wife were in the submerged car. He just drove to Montreal.

And perhaps most remarkable, he never told his parents about the accident he said he'd witnessed, not even after they were all charged with first-degree murder. His mother testified she knew nothing about any of this until the preliminary inquiry last February.

That astonishing story is assuredly why Hamed, unlike his parents, did not take the witness stand, where under cross-examination he would have had to explain himself.

He nonetheless stuck to it, and so did his trial lawyer, Patrick McCann.

Hamed made “a terrible mistake” and was “morally blameworthy” in concealing all this, Mr. McCann told the jury.

All the same, the lawyer said, that is what happened. That is the truth.

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