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Tan “Austin” Le and Hanh Nguyen met at a casino in the summer of 2017. Both had significant “gambling challenges,” according to court documents. Their relationship soon became intimate, resulting in the collapse of Nguyen’s marriage.
Less than two years later, Nguyen was found fatally stabbed in the basement of the Mould Avenue home near Jane St. and St. Clair Ave.
“In the short span of 18 months, the deceased and the accused gambled $500,000, an astonishing amount in that period of time. The money was running out. That was part of the reason this relationship came to an end when it did,” crown attorney Shane Hobson told Madam Justice Maureen Forestell at the sentencing hearing for the now 43-year-old U.S. citizen, who separated from his family in northern New York in 2017 and came to Toronto after meeting Nguyen.
Le pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 7, 2022, two days after his trial by judge began. A preliminary hearing was held by Zoom prior to the start of the trial.
Nguyen was murdered on January 24, 2019. Police became aware of the domestic homicide only after 911 dispatchers received a call from Le requesting an ambulance. Le said on the call that he had killed his girlfriend during an argument. He said he quickly grabbed a knife from the kitchen and attacked her. He also had self-inflicted knife wounds. When paramedics arrived, they found Nguyen lying face-up on an air mattress, wearing a bra. She had no apparent signs of life and was pronounced dead at 6:22 am. Her boyfriend was transported to Sunnybrook Hospital with a police escort and was operated on for an attempted suicide.
In his sentencing submissions, Hobson called the killing “a brutal, violent attack” before showing Le and the judge a picture of the crime scene.
“It was a small room. There was an air mattress. You couldn’t move around in that room. She couldn’t escape. Once that offence took place, there was no way she could get out of that room. She was defenceless,” said Hobson, noting that she was stabbed 20 times and had defensive wounds on her fingers, wrists, legs and feet.
“It took minutes for her to die and, in those minutes, she fought for her life with every part of her body,” he said, adding that Le let Nguyen die. “He waited four hours to call 911 and he knew she was dead. You can tell from the call. The purpose of the call wasn’t for her. It was to save himself. He received medical attention and recovered.”
Le was living in the basement of the matrimonial home after running out of money. Nguyen had asked her ex-husband, Nhat Do, if she could live in the basement bedroom. In December 2017, Do agreed to let the two live in the home already occupied by himself, their daughter and Nguyen’s parents.
But things deteriorated between the Le and Nguyen. Just two days before Nguyen was killed, Le used Nguyen’s password and accessed her cell phone and discovered a series of text messages between her and another man. Le took photos of the messages and then stored them on his phone. That night, Le and Nguyen were losing money again.
Nguyen gave Le $1,000 to hold while she attempted to recoup her losses. Despite being told not to gamble those funds, he did anyway. Nguyen was extremely angry with Le and told him the relationship was over, according to the hearing. She ordered him to leave and return to the United States.
The following day, Le packed his suitcase and told Nguyen’s parents that he was leaving and believed she may have found someone else. He was drinking alcohol the night before the fatal attack but blood samples taken in hospital after the murder found that while he was impaired, Le was still able to be aware of his surroundings and have an operating mind that could form the intent to commit murder.
Hobson said that while Le did plead guilty, it was after a preliminary hearing during which Nguyen’s family all testified.
“The trauma of reliving the events had already occurred, though they have been spared another round,” said Hobson. He suggested a period of parole ineligibility between 16 and 17 years would be appropriate, citing a lack of remorse and calling the confession to 911 “merely an attempt to stop the pain he was going through at the time.”
Defence attorney Sid Freeman suggested a parole ineligibility period of ten years would be more appropriate, noting that Le has no prior criminal record, pled guilty, and called 911 and confessed.
Three victim impact statements were read out by the crown, including one from Nguyen’s ex-husband and another from their 17-year-old daughter who came to the courthouse but chose not to sit in the courtroom.
“After the offence, I hardly slept at night and napped all day. I was too scared to close my eyes in the dark or turn my back away from the court,” she wrote.
The sentencing hearing continues.
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A new report by a committee formed to probe into the death of a Dalit youth in a jail in Rolpa has raised serious questions over Nepal’s prison administration.
Sundar Harijan, 20, died in jail on May 18 under suspicious circumstances. He was said to have died by suicide.
The probe committee has found that it was a case of identity swapping—that Harijan was serving time for another criminal. It has also found that there was gross negligence on the part of prison administration.
The executive summary of the report, a copy of which is seen by the Post, says CCTV footage of the time when Harijan ‘committed suicide’ is not available and recommends further detailed investigation by the Nepal Police.
Harijan was jailed on charges of mobile phone theft by Banke District Court judge Dilip Raj Onta.
Harijan was handed down one-year jail and Rs10,000 fine for mobile theft. He was supposed to remain in jail until September 3, 2020. His jail term, however, was extended until October 8 after he could not pay the fine.
Meanwhile, Bijay Bikram Shah was sent to jail for extortion and his involvement in organised crime. He was due to get released on March 6 next year.
But for no apparent reason, both Harijan and Shah were transferred to Rolpa Prison on November 23.
Then came the twist. Shah was released on January 12, 2021 as Harijan. Harijan continued to be in jail as Shah.
Harijan was found dead on May 18 at the Rolpa jail in a suspicious condition.
Earlier on May 20, the government had formed a probe panel led by Jharendra Chapagain, director of the Department of Prison Management, to study the death of Harijan. The panel submitted its report to Basudev Ghimire, director general of the Department of Prison Management, saying there was no involvement of the prison administration in Harijan’s death.
But the Home Ministry formed yet another committee led by Surya Prasad Sedhai, a joint secretary at the ministry, on May 31 to investigate the matter.
The Sedhai committee’s report has pointed out that Shah influenced the then acting jailor of Banke District Prison Dipendra Prasad Poudel and Dinesh Kumar Yadav, who was working as a driver for the prison. The panel found that Poudel and Yadav were pretty close with each other.
“Yadav, the driver, left for India immediately after the incident,” the executive summary of the report states. “He closed all his contacts, including phone and his social media accounts. Both Poudel and Yadav appear to have accomplices in the incident.”
The panel has recommended that the Nepal Police carry out a detailed investigation into the activities of Khadka Bahadur Khatri, also a prisoner, who was seen in CCTV footage talking to other inmates after Harijan’s death.
“From the details mentioned in the report it is clear that the then civil servants related to prison administration made serious mistakes and negligence in accomplishing their responsibilities and following laws, we recommend legal action against them,” the report states. “Likewise, we also recommend immediate implementation of the suggestions of this panel.”
The committee employed different methods for completing its study including field inspection, information collection and analysis, enquiry and the analysis of phone call and incident details.
The Sedhai-led panel included Jhanka Nath Dhakal, director of the Department of Prison Management, Superintendent of Nepal Police Bhupendra Khatri, Deputy Investigation Director of National Investigation Department Bishwamani Acharya and an administrative officer at the District Administration Office, Banke.
Its members also met with Shah, who is currently doing time in Barabanki District of India’s Uttar Pradesh, on drug trafficking charges, through unofficial channels.
Shah had told the investigation team that Harijan could have committed suicide after Khadka Bahadur Khatri, who is also known as Tora Bora, and Prakash Budha tortured him to return their money. The report does not have details of the money Shah is referring to.
The panel has recommended action against those who decided to transfer Shah and Harijan from Banke to Rolpa, saying that they failed to discharge their duties properly.
“I cannot say anything about the report because there are some very sensitive security issues,” said Surya Sedhai, joint secretary of the Home Ministry, who led the probe panel.
The Sedhai panel was asked to submit its report in seven days from the day they started their work. The panel submitted a report to Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand on Tuesday.
After receiving the report, Khand said he would implement the recommendations of the report.
According to another joint secretary of the Home Ministry, who wished not to be named, the recommendations of the probe panel will be implemented gradually.
He said the panel has made many recommendations including the reforms in prison administration and management of physical infrastructure, maintaining proper records of the prisoners with their clear identification so as to ensure that such incidents of identity swapping are not repeated in the future.
The National Human Rights Commission has also formed a separate probe panel. A report is pending.
The National Dalit Commission, however, said despite its wish to conduct a probe on its own, it could not do so because of fund crunch.
“We wanted to send an independent panel to investigate the death of the Dalit youth under suspicious circumstances in the prison. But we could not do so,” said Devraj Bishworkarma, chairperson of the Dalit Commission. “We could not manage funds for the probe.”
Legal experts say the government should come up with a new legal provision to control the crimes related to prisoner swapping as this could happen in the future as well.
“Since this is a new kind of crime in which prison administration officials seem to be involved, a separate law should be brought to curb such new forms of criminal activities,” said Balaram KC, former justice of the Supreme Court.
KC said the government must form another independent enquiry commission led by a sitting High Court judge as this is a serious issue in which all the state mechanism seems to have been involved in taking the life of a youth.
“The state is the custodian of the fundamental rights of its people,” KC told the Post. “The jailor concerned must be punished and the state must issue a public apology to the people and form an independent commission.”
The recent death of veteran singer Krishnakumar Kunnath (KK) after a concert in Kolkata has highlighted the need to learn the basic nuances of handling the health emergencies for all.
The post mortem report of singer indicated that KK had significant blockages in his heart vessels, which led to a heart attack. Even, he can be seen distressed and sweating during his live performance. The singer was taken to his hotel and then to a hospital where doctors declared him dead following a cardiac arrest.
The major point which is being widely discussed is — Had he survived if he had been promptly transported to a hospital?
“Timely CPR even by a lay person and immediate shifting to cardiac Centre might have different result”, says Dr (Prof) Tarun kumar, ABVIMS and RML hospital. He told IANS that if he had any symptoms, he should have been immediately taken to nearest medical Centre, instead of going to hotel. Time is both precious and precarious in such medical emergency, he said.
Emergency medical and critical care services can play a significant role in designing and implementing an effective approach towards public health. The top three reasons people visit an emergency are heart attack, a stroke, or an accident. In the case of a heart attack or accident, the patient must get to a hospital within 60 minutes. The time-to-treatment is most crucial in the case of heart attack. The medical guidelines say this should be 90 minutes or less to perform angioplasty in such cases.
The essential elements of an emergency medical system for cardiac patients are: ambulance operations, a call centre, and healthcare facilities.
“A heart attack is a medical emergency. It usually occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart. It leads to myocardial injury and needs proper treatment to salvage the myocardium. In cardiac arrest, the heart abruptly stops beating. Without prompt intervention, it can result in the person’s death. Heart function stops abruptly and needs urgent intervention”, said Dr Kumar.
Availability of Cardiac defibrillator at public places is sometimes life saving, said Dr Kumar, highlighting the need of self awareness and proper training in such emergency cases. To handle the medical emergency, he emphasised on self awareness and regular cardiac check.
To prevent such incidents, Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) may be helpful in certain situations if he or she has proper training. “Installation of Cardiac defibrillator at public places like bus stand, railway station, airport, stadium and General public awareness and training at mass level in CPR and usage of cardiac defibrillators can help us deal with any such health emergency”, Dr Kumar told IANS.
Deployment of ambulances at least equipped with necessary medicines and trained paramedics should be made mandatory at large gatherings or public events, he added further.
However, a 2020 AIIMS Delhi report on emergency and injury care at district hospitals in India says that even 88 per cent of hospitals had in-house ambulances, trained paramedics needed to assist ambulance services were present only in 3 per cent.
“Provision of specialized care during ambulance transport was largely poor: only 12 per cent hospitals had mobile Stroke/ STEMI (for heart attack) program. Most of the hospitals lacked Pre-hospital arrival notification system”, the study pointed out.
“Emergency care system in our country has seen uneven progress. Some states have done well, while others are still in the budding stages. Overall, it suffers from fragmentation of services from pre-hospital care to facility-based care in government as well as in the private sector. The system also suffers from lack of trained human resource, finances, legislation and regulations governing the system. Absence of standalone academic department since its inception is another factor which is ailing the system”, the study said about emergency services in the country.
Dr Abhishek Shankar, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, AIIMS Patna, says that awareness about health for any minor issues in India is so poor that people land in trouble.
Dr Rohan Krishnan, President of Federation of All India Medical Association, emphasised on providing health education at plus two level irrespective of students’ stream. He said that students must be taught basic life saving skills at college level to deal with such emergency situation. Along with creating a mass level awareness on basic life saving skills, the general public also needs to imbibe ‘accepting attitude’ and abstain from ‘ignoring attitude’, as public visit hospital only when the condition becomes grave, said Dr Krishnan.
(Avinash Prabhakar can be reached at Avinash.P@Ians.in)
A stampede Saturday at a church charity event in southern Nigeria left 31 people dead and seven injured, police told the Associated Press, a shocking development at a program that organizers said aimed to “offer hope” to the needy.
The stampede at the program organized by the Kings Assembly pentecostal church in Rivers state involved many people who were seeking assistance, according to Grace Iringe-Koko, a police spokeswoman in the state.
Many of the victims came to an annual “Shop for Free” charity program organized by the church. Such events are common in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, where more than 80 million people live in poverty, according to government statistics.
Saturday’s charity program was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. but dozens arrived as early as 5 a.m. to secure their place in line, Iringe-Koko said. Somehow they broke open the locked gate, she said, adding that the seven injured were “responding to treatment.”
Videos from the scene showed the clothing, shoes and other items meant for the beneficiaries. Doctors and emergency workers treated some of the injured as they lay in the open field.
The “Shop for Free” event was suspended while authorities investigated how the stampede occurred.
The outbreak of the Irish Civil War and the deaths of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith are among the main events to be commemorated in the 2022 decade of centenaries programme.
The Government has announced a State commemoration will be held in remembrance “of all those who lost their lives” during the Civil War, which followed a split over whether to accept or reject the Anglo-Irish Treaty establishing the Irish Free State, after the War of Independence with Britain.
The commemoration will be held “on a neutral date”, yet to be confirmed, and will focus on “remembrance and reconciliation,” the Government has said.
Other major events in the centenary programme this year include the death of Collins and the death of Griffith. The latter chaired the delegation which negotiated the treaty with Britain.
University College Cork is to host a conference on the Civil War over four days in June, to discuss various aspects of the bitter conflict.
A programme of events is being organised to mark the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána, as well as the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland.
The National Museum of Ireland is to put on an exhibition around the disbandment of the British Army’s Irish regiments, such as the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and the Connaught Rangers.
The Government said the historical programme would seek to remember the “complex and still painful period in our history”, while acknowledging the “legitimacy of all traditions”.
Discussions to be included in the centenaries programme include; a military analysis of why the pro-Treaty side won the Civil War, a reassessment of the career of Arthur Griffith, and a debate about Michael Collins, asking whether he became “a military dictator” in the weeks before he was killed in an ambush at Béal na Bláth in August 1922.
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht has been allocated €5 million to support the commemorative programme for the coming year.
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