Son stabbed mother 11 times during PATH restaurant killing, court hears as trial begins

·4 min read
Defence lawyer Joelle Klein, left, and Duncan Sinclair, right, appear in court. Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his mother. (Pam Davies/CBC - image credit)
Defence lawyer Joelle Klein, left, and Duncan Sinclair, right, appear in court. Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his mother. (Pam Davies/CBC - image credit)

A mother of eight children was stabbed 11 times by her own son while she was at work in downtown Toronto's underground PATH system in 2019, court heard Tuesday as accused killer Duncan Sinclair's first-degree murder trial began.

Rae Cara Carrington suffered injuries including three fractured ribs, as well as puncture wounds to her liver, kidney, lungs and heart, assistant Crown attorney Pamela Santora said in her opening address to the jury.

"Duncan Sinclair stabbed and killed his mother. He armed himself with a knife. He tracked her down to where she was working that evening," Santora said.

"Then he walked to her workplace, entered and stabbed her repeatedly."

Sinclair, 22, was 19 at the time. He has pleaded not guilty to a single count of first-degree murder. He appeared in the Toronto courtroom Tuesday wearing a black suit and black-rimmed glasses, and sat next to his defence lawyer, Joelle Klein. Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy is presiding over the trial.

Santora told the jury that at the time of the killing, Carrington was "trying to get her life back on track" after a complicated separation from her husband. Court heard that when she died, Sinclair's father was in police custody as a result of allegations of domestic and child abuse.

Santora provided glimpses of the family's history, telling the jury that the children were isolated, did not attend school, and did not interact with the community in any "normal childhood ways." They didn't receive regular medical care, moved at least 26 times, and were "taught to distrust authorities," she said.

"Because [Carrington] worked to support the family, [the father] was left home with the children, and his control over the household was unwavering," she said.

Security camera video captures killing

Court heard security cameras captured video of the attack, which happened at Fast Fresh Foods in the area of King Street West and Bay Street on the evening of April 10, 2019.

Sinclair found his mother in the kitchen prep area of the establishment, Santora said, and he spoke to her before pulling out a large purple knife and stabbing her 10 times.

"When she fell to the floor he walked towards the counter as though to leave before turning back and inflicting one final blow with the knife," Santora said. "Duncan Sinclair then calmly walked off camera with the knife in hand without hesitation."

Linda Ward/CBC
Linda Ward/CBC

Toronto police Det. Const. Kristy Devine was the trial's first witness Tuesday afternoon, and her testimony included gruesome security camera video that shows a person she said she believes is Duncan Sinclair carrying out the killing.

The video shows a person in a grey hat and a black hoodie chasing down and repeatedly stabbing Carrington, leaving her in a pool of blood on the floor. It also shows employees of the restaurant where she worked panicking in the aftermath before paramedics and police arrive.

Santora also laid out evidence the jury is expected to hear later at the trial. She said after leaving the food court, Sinclair used GO Transit to travel to Georgetown, Kitchener, Barrie and finally Midland, Ont., which is more than 100 km north of Toronto.

Court heard that Sinclair was located at a YMCA in Midland when an employee noticed that he was repeatedly conducting online searches about the investigation. She then alerted police.

DNA found on Sinclair's clothing

When officers arrived to arrest Sinclair on April 12, court heard, he gave police the fake name "Daniel Williams" — which was the same name he had given to the YMCA and a shelter in Midland where he had left his belongings.

His clothes were seized and tested at the Centre of Forensic Sciences, and DNA tests found blood on Sinclair's jeans, Santora said — which was later linked to Carrington.

Although no murder weapon was ever recovered, a set of colourful knives was found at Sinclair's home, and it was missing a large purple knife, court heard.

In her opening statement, Santora said Sinclair carried out a "planned and deliberate killing.

"Duncan Sinclair placed calls to two Fast Fresh Foods locations to find out where [his mother] was before he arrived. He brought a knife from home, and he watched and waited for his mother outside her workplace," Santora said.

"When he couldn't wait anymore he went in to find her and seconds later, he attacked her with the knife. He chased her when she ran, and despite having inflicted 10 stab wounds already, he went back for one final blow just to make sure."

The trial is expected to take three to four weeks.

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