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‘Nothing will bring Zack back.’ Killers of man attacked near Yonge and Eglinton sentenced

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 29/04/2019 Alyshah Hasham - Courts Reporter
a person wearing a costume: Zack Noureddine, left, in an undated Facebook photo, and a screengrab from security video presented in court that shows William Cummins, Matthew Moreira and Patrick Smith in an apartment elevator near the crime hours after Noureddine was killed. © Provided by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited Zack Noureddine, left, in an undated Facebook photo, and a screengrab from security video presented in court that shows William Cummins, Matthew Moreira and Patrick Smith in an apartment elevator near the crime hours after Noureddine was killed.

Zaher “Zack” Noureddine made the world a better place — both in his 25 years alive and after he was murdered.

“His heart is still pumping, his lungs are still breathing,” said his father Hassan Noureddine, after two of the men responsible for killing his son were sentenced Monday, each to more than 10 years in prison.

As an organ donor, Zack Noureddine’s heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and other organs live on in other people, Hassan said. “This is what keeps us standing. He didn’t die in vain.”

In December, a jury found Patrick Smith, 29, guilty of the second-degree murder of Noureddine and of assaulting Noureddine’s friend and co-worker Mitchell Conery. Matthew Moreira, 35, was found guilty of manslaughter and pleaded guilty to attempted robbery.

Read more:

Two men found guilty in midtown beating death of complete stranger

What the jury didn’t hear

After a mistrial last year, a third man, William Cummins, 32, fired his lawyer and had his case separated. He will face a first-degree murder trial later this year.

On Monday, Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar sentenced Smith to the automatic sentence of life in prison and said he would have no chance of parole for 12 years. Moreira was sentenced to 13 years for manslaughter and the attempted robbery.

Noureddine and Conery were attacked, unprovoked and without warning, while walking back to Conery’s car near Yonge St., between Davisville Ave. and Eglinton Ave., after a work meeting on Dec. 29, 2015, Akhtar said.

Noureddine was at the meeting to support Conery, his mentee and friend.

Conery was sucker-punched and knocked to the ground where he was stomped on. Noureddine was kicked and punched in the head and restrained in a headlock — a beating so violent witnesses feared correctly that Noureddine would die.

One witness described the kicks as if they were “trying to kick a soccer ball the length of the field.”

Moreira told Conery that if he handed over his wallet the attack on Noureddine would end.

In a particularly disturbing piece of evidence, an elevator security video shows the men apparently enthusiastically re-enacting the attack, with Moreira grinning in “apparent approval,” Akhtar said. The three men leave the elevator in a “triumphalist fashion, seemingly well-pleased with their handiwork,” he said — and while they did not know Noureddine had died at that point, they were fully aware of how brutal their attack had been.

During the sentencing hearing the court heard that Smith had a difficult life including both drug and alcohol addictions. His parents also had a history of drug addiction and his father abused his mother until she fled with the help of a friend. His mother died by assisted suicide due to severe pain from multiple sclerosis while Smith was in custody. His father died of a drug overdose shortly after his arrest.

Moreira also suffered from alcohol abuse as a teenager and abuse from a stepfather. He has several previous convictions for violent offences and was on probation at the time of the offence, Akhtar noted.

After the hearing Hassan Noureddine said he had hoped for longer sentences but in the end “nothing will bring Zack back.”

Since Noureddine’s death the Ottawa-based family has launched a foundation in Zack Noureddine’s name aimed at preventing youth violence. Another fundraiser is planned for next month.

Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati

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