The mastermind of a bomb plot that targeted downtown Toronto should not have been given a life sentence because he was a youthful and remorseful first-time offender, Ontario’s top court was told yesterday.
Zakaria Amara, the ringleader of the Toronto 18 terror cell, should have instead received a sentence of between 18 to 20 years, defence lawyer James Lockyer told the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Lockyer argued the sentencing judge allowed the seriousness of the crime to overwhelm his analysis and unfairly discounted mitigating factors such as Amara’s guilty plea, his age, his status as a first-time offender and his expressions of remorse.
But Crown prosecutor Nicholas Devlin said a life sentence is reasonable for anyone who plays a significant role in plotting a major terrorist attack.
Devlin pointed out Amara, who was sentenced in January, planned to “decimate” the downtown core and said the mere existence of the plot, which was foiled in June 2006, was an “attack against our entire society” because it rattled people’s sense of security. He also noted Amara’s renunciation of jihad was “very recent.”