Ottawa police have laid charges in four unsolved attacks on women in Centretown and Hintonburg dating back to 2010 after a man was arrested and charged last October in connection with a similar incident, CBC News has learned.
Nabil Benhsaien, who was 35 at the time of his arrest, was initially charged with one count each of attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, possession of a weapon and breach of recognizance.
The charges were in connection to an incident on Oct. 22, when a 27-year-old woman walking on Bayview Road near Burnside Avenue was approached from behind and struck in the head with a hammer at about 2 p.m. She suffered minor injuries.
At the time of Benhsaien's arrest in the latest case, police sources told CBC News they were investigating his possible connection to the older, unsolved cases, in which women were struck on the head from behind in Centretown and Hintonburg.
Police warned the public about those attacks at the time, and had released a composite sketch.
Since then, 24 additional charges were laid against Benhsaien in connection with the four previously unsolved cases:
- The first incident happened on Nov. 29, 2010, a Monday. At about 2 p.m., a female (age unknown) was walking along Bay Street near McLeod Street when she was struck by something hard in the back of the head. The suspect then fled.
- The second incident happened on Dec. 11, 2010, a Saturday. At about 1 p.m., a 45-year-old woman was walking along Spencer Street near Hamilton Avenue North in Hintonburg when she was struck with a hammer on the back of the head by an unknown man. She suffered a concussion and fell to the ground, police said, and was later taken to hospital. The suspect ran away in the opposite direction.
- The third incident happened later that same afternoon, just half an hour later, at the intersection of Albert Street and City Centre Avenue. A 58-year-old woman was walking along Albert Street when she was struck on the back of the head with a hammer by an unknown man. Again, the man ran away in the opposite direction. The victim managed to walk home and later went to hospital to have her injuries assessed.
- The fourth incident happened less than a month later on Jan. 4, 2011, a Tuesday. Just after 5 p.m., a 49-year-old woman was walking along Gilmour Street near Bay Street in Centretown when she was struck on the back of the head with an unknown object held by an unknown man. Once again, the suspect ran away in the opposite direction.
The latest charges include attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and others.
Court records show Benhsaien pleaded guilty in 2012 to two counts of theft under $5,000 for an incident in 2011. He is also facing charges of possessing marijuana.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated police had laid charges in four cases in total. In fact, it was five cases in total.Jan 10, 2014 1:52 PM ET