He acknowledged striking the family with his pickup truck in June 2021 in London, Ontario.

Supporters of the Afzaal family arrive at the courthouse to attend the sentencing hearing of Nathaniel Veltman in London, Ontario, on Thursday. Photo: Canadian Press via AP

The prosecution argued at trial that he sought to intimidate and terrorise Muslims, while the defence said he had suffered a mental decline – which did not, however, meet the requirements for an insanity plea.

His lawyers also said he was in “a state of extreme confusion” after consuming hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms that weekend.

Judge Renee Pomerance, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, said Veltman “had planned a murderous rampage for months and took steps to ensure that he would kill as many Muslims in this brutal manner as he could”.

Recalling Veltman’s statements to police, she said: “He wanted to intimidate the Muslim community. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of other mass killers, and he wanted to inspire others to commit murderous acts.”

Hundreds gather in Canada to pay tribute to Muslim family killed in truck attack

“I find that the offender’s actions constitute terrorist activity,” she concluded.

Outside the courthouse, extended members of the Afzaal family expressed their grief, describing “a hollowness” and “scars”.

“The verdict will not bring back what was stolen. It will not mend the fractured pieces of our lives, our identity and our security,” relative Tabina Bukhari said.

But, she added, “the terrorism designation acknowledges the hate that fuelled this fire, the ugliness that took the lives of Salman, Madiha and Yumnah”.

People put up a sign at a makeshift memorial at the site Nathaniel Veltman jumped the curb with his truck to hit members of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario, in June 2021. Photo: Reuters

Defence lawyer Christopher Hicks, meanwhile, told reporters he is considering appealing against both the conviction and sentence.

The jury in the almost 10-week trial heard Veltman had penned a “terrorist manifesto,” found on his computer, in which he espoused white nationalism and described his hate for Muslims.

The judge noted that he wore “combat gear” including a helmet and bulletproof vest during the attack.

Dramatic scenes in court as racist US gunman is jailed for life

Veltman passed the Afzaal family on a London street on that warm Sunday evening, turned his newly purchased truck with a heavy grill guard around, jumped the curb and slammed into them.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and her grandmother Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed.

A nine-year-old boy orphaned in the ramming suffered serious injuries.

The slaying was the deadliest anti-Muslim attack in Canada since a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017 that left six dead. The perpetrator of that shooting was not accused of terrorism.