HIV Positive Nigerian Jailed For Life For Serial Rape, Murder


•William Imona-Russel

Emotions were teeming in court Wednesday as Yasmin Ashareh’s killer William Imona-Russel was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years.

•William Imona-Russel

Victim-impact statements revealed a deep sense of betrayal and anger at the Canadian immigration and justice systems that enabled the 36-year-old HIV-positive Nigerian to rape and murder the 20-year-old Toronto woman in July 2006.

That murder occurred more than two years after he was ordered deported as a failed refugee claimant and while he was on bail for two rapes against a former girlfriend in March 2005. He is still appealing on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

Imona-Russel barely worked since arriving in April 2003, collected a disability pension and cost taxpayers more than $2 million fighting various criminal charges. He ruined one woman’s life and murdered Ashareh.

The contrast between Imona-Russel and the victim and her family is strikingly stark.

Murder victim Yasmin Ashareh helped the poor as a volunteer and dreamed of helping the less fortunate as a social worker. Her family escaped from war-torn Somalia and have been model immigrants. Her mom Asha worked two jobs and seven days a week to support her family, putting her four children through university.

One is an accountant, another a critical care nurse and her youngest son is a university student.

“This system betrayed Yasmin, a Canadian citizen who on the day she was raped and murdered worked eight hours to pay tax to a system that was providing HIV medication and disability pension to her killer,” said Asha Ashareh in her heart-felt impact statement.

“A system that let him add insult to injury by creating a false story about Yasmin (that they were lovers to explain his semen) because he looks down on the whole Canadian society and believes the Canadian justice system is a joke,” said Ashareh.

Before the sentencing, the mother hugged seven members of the jury, who convicted Imona-Russel of first-degree murder Tuesday.

Imona-Russel initially denied knowing Ashareh, who had moved into his Rexdale rooming-house only two days before her murder.

At trial, he testified they had consensual sex but he snapped in a alcohol-fuelled rage and killed her by stabbing her repeatedly with scissors. Yasmin’s sister Suad said Imona-Russel placed Yasmin’s body inside a hockey bag at a garbage pick-up site to evade responsibility for his heinous crime.

“Your darkness in hiding such a horrific, barbaric crime was exposed by God,” said Suad.

“It was no accident for my sister’s body to be stuffed in a bag, left outside for garbage collectors to dispose, having no idea what it contained.”

Imona-Russel was convicted of the rapes he was on bail for at the time of Ashareh’s murder. The HIV-positive assailant was also found guilty of attempted aggravated sexual assault endangering life of the same victim — a 59 year-old flight attendant — for having unprotected sex with the woman.

He was sentenced last September to nine years in prison for those crimes.

“Yasmin Ashareh was an innocent young woman who was tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time when this horrible, unspeakable crime was committed,” said Crown attorney David Fisher.

Imona Russel legal and other related fees cost Ontario taxpayers millions of dollars since he used a false passport to come to Canada from Nigeria in 2003.

He worked only a few months before going on a disability pension after learning he was HIV positive. His refugee claim was denied and his deportation order became enforceable on April 21, 2004.

He “could not be removed forthwith because he had no valid identity or travel documents and he had not exhausted all legal avenues to remain in Canada,” said Anna Pape, spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency.

Asha Ashareh blamed the immigration department for failing to deport Imona-Russel before his crime spree.

“He never worked a day in his life and he killed my daughter and ended her dream of helping youths as a social worker,” said the distraught woman.

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