Winnipeg mail-bomber Guido Amsel gets life in prison

A man convicted of attempting to murder his ex-wife and two Winnipeg lawyers with bombs sent through the mail has been sentenced to life in prison.

No chance at parole for 17 years; odds of rehabilitation 'questionable at best,' judge says

Mail bomber Guido Amsel has been sentenced to life in prison. (Submitted/WPS via CP)

A man convicted of attempting to murder his ex-wife and two Winnipeg lawyers with bombs sent through the mail in 2015 has been sentenced to life in prison.

Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord sentenced Guido Amsel in a Winnipeg courtroom Thursday afternoon in front of a packed gallery of about 75 people. 

"He is not remorseful. He has not taken responsibility for his actions," Lord said, adding Amsel demonstrated "vengeful contempt" and "indiscriminate disregard" for others in the community who unknowingly came into contact with the bombs.

"His rehabilitation is questionable at best."

Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft argued Amsel should get life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years; Amsel's lawyer Andrew Synyshyn sought a sentence of between 20 and 25 years.

Amsel was also sentenced to 12 and a half years for the 2013 attempted murder of his ex-wife, Iris Amsel, also with a bomb. With time already served, that sentence was dropped to seven years.

He will serve the sentences consecutively, so he will effectively be ineligible for parole for 17 years. He gets a credit of five years for time already served.

Watch Lord deliver her decision:

Guido Amsel has been sentenced to life in prison for attempting to murder his ex-wife and two Winnipeg lawyers with bombs sent through the mail in Winnipeg. 27:44

A shackled Amsel, 52, was escorted in and out of court wearing a navy blue suit and red tie.

The father of two has been in jail for about three and a half years after he was arrested and charged with attempted murder and a series of explosives offences.

'It's just so hard'

His current wife cried outside court while surrounded by loved ones after the sentencing.

"I believe in him and he's a good person ... he took care of his family," Amsel's wife, who asked not to be named, told CBC News through tears. "It's just so hard."

Guido Amsel's current wife leaves court after the sentencing. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

She maintained her husband is innocent and said although she wants to appeal, financial barriers may prevent that from happening.

In May, Amsel was found guilty on 15 charges, including four counts of attempting to murder his ex-wife, Iris Amsel, and lawyers Maria Mitousis and George Orle. Bombs intended for them were sent via Canada Post in July 2015.

"Mr. Amsel's plan was extremely calculated," Lord said, adding it's troubling Orle and Mitousis were targeted "simply for doing their jobs."

Amsel pleaded not guilty to five attempted murder charges, one count of aggravated assault and a number of explosives offences. 

Lawyers represented Amsel, ex

Mitousis, who previously represented Iris in a financial dispute, lost her right hand and suffered serious burns after opening one of the packages. A bomb disguised as an audio recorder detonated in her hands at her River Avenue law office in Winnipeg. 

Lawyer Maria Mitousis, who represented Amsel's ex-wife, Iris Amsel, lost her right hand to one of his bombs. (John Einarson/CBC)

Orle, who represented Amsel in a civil case but withdrew in 2014, and his ex-wife were not injured by bombs sent to them.

Within days of the explosion that injured Mitousis, police safely detonated one mail bomb sent to Orle's Stradbrook Avenue law office and another that arrived at an autobody shop where Iris worked.

Amsel was convicted on two counts of attempting to murder his ex-wife, including the 2015 incident and another bomb that exploded at her home in the rural municipality of St. Clements in December 2013.

"This incident would, without a doubt, have been an extremely unsettling event for her, particularly in light of the fact that nobody was held responsible for it at the time," Lord said of the latter incident.

Sentencing delays

The sentencing hit a few delays after the verdict in May. 

He previously fired a lawyer while awaiting trial in 2016. In June of this year, Amsel fired his legal counsel and alleged incriminating evidence was planted and that Iris and others were behind the bombs.

His sentencing was then scheduled to take place last month, but Lord reserved her decision after court heard a wrenching victim impact statement from Mitousis. 

Lord said Thursday the package addressed to Mitousis included a personalized invitation "designed to entice her." 

"The physical impact of the explosion has been life changing in many ways for her," Lord said.

Mitousis continues to suffer from the lingering pain of the traumatic explosion, Lord said, and she is still relearning how to do some things after numerous surgeries.

Police intercepted 2 bombs

The explosion is what allowed police to track down the other two bombs intended for Iris and Orle.

"This warning was entirely coincidental," Lord said, suggesting the lives of Canada Post workers and others who came close to the packages were put at risk.

In addition to the attempted murder convictions, Amsel was also found guilty of four counts of using an explosive to cause bodily harm, aggravated assault, mischief endangering life and other offences.

He was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Iris's boyfriend James Block in connection with the 2013 explosion, as well three counts of endangering the lives of workers at Orle's law office and the autobody shop.

Cameras are generally not allowed in Manitoba courtrooms, but exceptions are made for some high-profile case such as this sentencing.

A written version of Lord's sentencing decision will be posted on the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench website.

A man convicted of attempting to murder his ex-wife and two Winnipeg lawyers with bombs sent through the mail in 2015 has been sentenced to life in prison. 1:50

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology. Before joining CBC Manitoba, he worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service monitoring birds in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Alberta. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

With files from The Canadian Press