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Small link between autism and mass murder, psychiatrist says at van attack trial

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TORONTO - A renowned psychiatrist is testifying about the link between autism and mass murder at the trial for a man who killed 10 people and injured 16 others in what's become known as the Toronto van attack.

Dr. John Bradford says only a small number of people with autism spectrum disorder have committed mass homicides and notes that those with the disorder are far more likely to be victims of violence.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

His lawyers have asked that the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., be found not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018 due to autism spectrum disorder.

Bradford has evaluated some of Canada's most notorious killers including Robert Pickton, Paul Bernardo and Russell Williams.

The psychiatrist became involved in the van attack case when court ordered Minassian to undergo a psychiatric assessment in 2018.

“There seems to be some relationship between autism and mass homicide,” said Bradford. But little is known about that relationship, he added.

Another psychiatrist previously testified that Minassian's autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.

Court has heard that Minassian told various doctors his motivation for the attacks ranged from notoriety to revenge against society for years of rejection by women to anxiety over starting a new job.

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