Nov 14, 2007 02:37 PM
A jury has returned a manslaughter verdict for an East Toronto man who beat his wife on the head 12 times with a hammer in front of their daughter when the woman threatened to leave him for another man.
Rafat Chowdhury, 48, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month but Crown prosecutors James Vlasis and Greg Scott rejected the plea and elected to try him on a charge of second-degree murder.
After a two-week trial during which Chowdhury and his two young daughters, who witnessed the attack, took the stand, the jury last night found him not guilty of murder.
Chowdhury testified that he did not remember hitting his wife repeatedly with the hammer on the night of July 17, 2005, as she lay on the matrimonial bed, their 9-year-old daughter lying by her side.
Defence lawyers Aitan Lerner and Emma Rhodes argued that he snapped after being provoked beyond endurance as his wife of 17 years announced that she wanted to leave him for another man and that she showed extraordinary callousness toward him.
A weeping Chowdhury testified that he and his wife, Hafiza, 41, had a good marriage until June 2005, when she returned to their native Bangladesh on short notice, taking the 9-year-old daughter with her.
A day after Hafiza left, a letter addressed to her arrived at the family home near Warden Ave. and Danforth Rd., in east Toronto. Chowdhury opened it and discovered it was from his wife's old sweetheart in Bangladesh, now married with children. The man wrote to say that despite her wishes, they could never be together.
When Hafiza returned from Bangladesh, she told her husband she no longer wanted to be with him and the couple quarrelled frequently and loudly.
On the Sunday of her death as they lay in bed, Hafiza asked her husband to sponsor her lover so they could live in the house, Chowdhury testified. She and the man would live upstairs while Chowdhury could stay in the basement and their two daughters could go into foster care, a sobbing Chowdhury told Superior Court.
When she told him that she had tried twice, when pregnant with their eldest girl, to terminate the pregnancy, that was the final provocation that set him, court heard.
But the prosecutors argued that Chowdhury formed the intent to kill his wife as evidenced, for instance, by going downstairs to find the hammer.
The eldest daughter, 15, who was downstairs watching TV, heard screams and rushed upstairs to see him with the hammer in his hand.
"I'm like, `Dad, calm down, calm down. Why are you doing this to mom?'" said the girl in a video statement.
"Like I'm pulling my dad back," she told police. "Then I saw my mom's blood come out and I started crying."
He will return for sentencing before Justice John McMahon on Dec. 21.