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'Brutal and callous:' 15-year parole ineligibility for man who killed father

CALGARY — A man who killed and dismembered his father has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for 15 years.

A jury found Zaineddin Al Aalak guilty in December of second-degree murder in the death of 53-year-old Mohamed Al Aalak. He was also convicted of offering an indignity to the man's body.

Jurors rejected a claim by the 24-year-old that he was not criminally responsible because he was in the throes of a psychosis at the time of the killing and was unable to understand that his actions were wrong. 

Court heard that Zaineddin Al Aalak attacked his father from behind with a hammer and strangled him with his hands in July 2017. He dismembered and decapitated the body using power tools and dumped the parts at a construction site in Okotoks, a town south of Calgary.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Labrenz said the crime was "brutal and callous" and that Al Aalak disposed of his father's remains like they were "pieces of garbage."

"There was a display of brutality at the time — and there was displayed a lack of compassion --over the way the father was killed and the way his body was treated after his death," the judge said while giving his sentencing decision Thursday.

The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but court heard submissions from lawyers about how long Al Aalak should have to wait before he could apply for parole.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail had requested a wait of 16 to 18 years.

"Part of Mohamad Al Aalak's body was never actually recovered and found," she said. "His right hand was never located by police and therefore was not able to be buried with ... his remains ... in Iraq."

Al Aalak's lawyer, Alain Hepner, suggested his client serve 13 or 14 years in prison before could ask for release.

Hepner said his client, still a young man who had been "the favourite son" before the killing, is remorseful.

"He has — and he knows — he has destroyed his family. He knows what he's done. He knows what has happened."

Al Aalak offered an apology.

"It was by my hands that he died and for this I am sorry and in grief beyond words," he told the court.

"The reason this happened was because of an altered state of mind that I experienced. I am consigned to live with that reality nonetheless."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press