Decision reserved in trial of Winnipeg man accused of sending letter bombs

Decision reserved in trial of Winnipeg man accused of sending letter bombs

WINNIPEG — A man accused of sending homemade letter bombs wanted to kill his ex-wife and two lawyers out of revenge for what he thought was a plot to deprive him of money from his auto-body business, the Crown said in its closing arguments at his trial Tuesday.

Attorney Chris Vanderhooft asked provincial court Judge Tracey Lord to find Guido Amsel guilty on 19 charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault and several weapons-related counts.

“He had tons of motive to do this,” Vanderhooft told a Winnipeg court at the conclusion of seven weeks of testimony. “He’s convinced that everybody’s against him … (that) it’s all a big giant conspiracy.”

Lord reserved her decision and did not say when she would be ready to give it.

Amsel, 51, is accused of sending four bombs in all — the first in 2013 to his ex-wife’s home, and three in July 2015 to her workplace and the law offices of two lawyers who had represented the former couple in a financial battle over profits from the auto-body shop they still co-owned.

Only one of the 2015 bombs exploded. It cost Maria Mitousis, the lawyer who had represented Iris Amsel, her right hand and resulted in other severe injuries. The explosive compound was contained in a handheld voice recorder along with a note that instructed Mitousis to press play.

The other two bombs were safely detonated by police.

The 2013 bomb exploded outside Iris Amsel’s home and left a crater in the frozen ground.

The trial heard Guido Amsel was convinced his one-time wife had stolen millions of dollars from him following their 2004 divorce as they continued to co-manage their business. A lawsuit was filed but Guido Amsel dropped the matter a few months before the explosions.

Amsel himself testified earlier this month that he thought his ex-wife had stolen the money and that he came to believe she and Mitousis had paid off one of his lawyers, Sara MacEachern, to withdraw from the case. MacEachern’s senior partner, George Orle, was one of the bomb targets.

Amsel also accused a police officer of seeking a bribe from him and told court he believed his ex-wife sent all the bombs to frame him.

His lawyer, Saheel Zaman, told court his client’s theories are not evidence of any guilt.

“It’s indicative of a man trying to make sense of why he has been charged with something he didn’t do.”

The Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Guido Amsel was behind the bombs, Zaman argued. A search of the accused’s home and computer produced no bomb-making equipment, documents or plans, Zaman noted.

Guido Amsel’s DNA was found at two of the bomb sites, but it could have been left there by other means, Zaman said. Amsel had browsed extensively through files at Mitousis’s office during legal proceedings after his lawyer dropped him and he represented himself. Zaman suggested Amsel’s DNA could have transferred from the files to other areas because of the explosion.

Winnipeg letter bomb