Man who placed hoax call to care home found guilty of sex assault

Judge said she believed man who described being constrained and sexually assaulted in Richmond

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A man who pleaded guilty to making a hoax call to the care home where Canada’s first COVID-19 death took place was convicted Friday of unlawfully confining and sexually assaulting a man several months later.

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In December 2021, Taymour Aghtai entered the plea to making the March 6, 2020, call to the Lynn Valley Care Centre, the same day that an elderly man died of the coronavirus.

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An administrator of the home said at the time that the caller pretended to be a health officer, exaggerated the number of people who had tested positive for COVID, and stated that because of that, they had to shut down the centre overnight. The caller said that residents and staff shouldn’t leave and the next shift shouldn’t come in.

The call caused fear and apprehension and many staff members called home to tell their families they shouldn’t expect them back, and staff members on the morning shift didn’t come in.

Aghtai is awaiting sentencing for the hoax call.

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On Friday, he was found guilty for a violent and humiliating attack on another man that occurred in September 2020 when Aghtai was living in an apartment near the Richmond Olympic Oval.

The male victim, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, testified that the day before the offences he’d visited Aghtai’s apartment, which the accused used to run an illegal fencing business, to buy a cellphone from him.

He said that Aghtai used a phone to show him a video of Aghtai involved in bestiality.

The victim said he was disturbed by what he’d seen and left, but came back the next day to retrieve some items he’d left behind.

In reaching her verdict, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court accepted much of what the victim described had happened over the next 30 hours before he managed to escape from the home.

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The judge said the evidence “overwhelmingly” established that Aghtai restrained the victim with handcuffs and zap straps almost as soon as he arrived at the home and kept him restrained until he escaped.

Several other people were then involved in confining and assaulting the victim.

Aghtai was a party to an imitation firearm being used to pistol-whip the victim and did nothing to assist the victim or stop the assault.

He was also convicted of being a party to a sexual assault on the victim. At that point, Aghtai was watching and recording what was happening.

Aghtai was also party to an extortion in which threats and violence was used to get the victim to simulate bestiality in order to obtain a video recording.

The judge said the victim generally impressed her as being truthful and accurate and found that he readily admitted facts that reflected badly on him.

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She said that while there was some imprecision in his evidence, it was generally reliable, largely because it included many distinctive and compelling details that gave it the ring of truth.

Aghtai testified and strenuously denied the offences, including the allegations of bestiality, saying that nothing remarkable happened during the victim’s visit to his apartment. But the judge discounted his evidence.

The accused will be sentenced for his involvement in the Richmond incident at a later date.

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