TOP CLICKS: The week that was in viral stories

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The Toronto Sun takes you straight to the heart of the action.

Whether it’s local news, provincial and national politics, or the worlds of celebrity and sports, we have you covered.

Some stories set the world on fire. And these ones are the most popular online stories from the past seven days, clicked on by Sun readers like you.

Here are our top stories:

Suspect in alleged London hate killings laughed during arrest: Witness

Our top story of the week comes from our sister paper in London, Ont., the London Free Press, and centres around the horrific hate-motivated attack that took the lives of four members of the same family.

The driver arrested in an alleged hate-motivated attack that killed four family members in London laughed as police took him into custody in a mall parking lot, a traumatized taxi driver who witnessed the arrest told his boss.

The cabbie was parked outside Cherryhill Village Mall on Oxford Street for a coffee break shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday when a black pickup truck entered the nearly deserted lot and parked behind him, Yellow Taxi London president Hassan Savehilaghi told The Free Press, speaking for the taxi driver.

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A veteran cabbie and father of two, he asked that Savehilaghi speak on his behalf because he’s still too traumatized to speak publicly about what he witnessed.

The pickup driver was wearing what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest, a military-style helmet and clothing that perhaps had swastikas on it, Savehilaghi said he was told by the cabbie.

A vehicle stop on Hwy. 401 in Napanee in January 2019 led to the seizure of 296 cases of illegal cigarettes packed into a U-Haul truck.
A vehicle stop on Hwy. 401 in Napanee in January 2019 led to the seizure of 296 cases of illegal cigarettes packed into a U-Haul truck.

BONOKOSKI: One man rips off Canadian taxpayers for a half-billion

Veteran award-winning columnist Mark Bonokoski told us about a ciggie smuggler who cost taxpayers roughly $600 million.

The public sees the “victimless crime” of cheap smokes selling for $4 a pack rather than legit cigarettes at the local convenience store costing upwards of $18, with more than 70% of the sticker price being taxes.

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What the public doesn’t see, however, is these tonnes of machine-ready tobacco costing us multi-millions in lost tax revenues that, for example, could go a long way toward mending a goodly portion of the health care system.

Phil Howard, 55, of Pink Hill, N.C., was recently sentenced to almost seven years in prison for smuggling cut-rag into Canada via the Akwesasne reserve on Cornwall Island at Cornwall, Ont. The island’s unique in that it straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and the United States, making it a hot zone for smuggling.

The amount of tobacco Howard smuggled into Canada over the years is staggering, with a court in Raleigh, N.C. being told the tax loss to Canada totalled $600 million.

Our federal and provincial politicians, however, basically just let it happen because they don’t know how to play a cat-and-mouse game and won’t invest serious money in the special law enforcement and border-authority units that can.

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Chris Larsen is a linebacker with the Ottawa Redblacks.
Chris Larsen is a linebacker with the Ottawa Redblacks.

Ottawa Redblacks suspend player accused in homophobic attack

A badly beaten Toronto man spent part of Wednesday under the knife in hospital while the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks were tackling allegations on social media that one of their players unleashed a weekend beating the victim says was motivated by homophobia.

The Redblacks said in a statement they “are aware of allegations made on social media involving a player in the organization. The team is currently investigating.”

On Wednesday night, the CFL team went one step further, announcing they were suspending the player — defensive lineman Chris Larsen.

Toronto Police are also investigating.

“I was knocked unconscious and beat nearly to death,” David Gomez, 24, wrote on social media.

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He considers himself lucky to be alive.

Originally from Eastern Ontario, socialite Jasmine Hartin is now in jail charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a police superintendent.
Originally from Eastern Ontario, socialite Jasmine Hartin is now in jail charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a police superintendent. Photo by JASMINE HARTIN /LINKEDIN

HUNTER: Canadian mom jailed in Belize after high-ranking cop shot dead

The pristine beaches of Belize are a long way from the hamlets of Eastern Ontario where Jasmine Hartin grew up, veteran crime writer Brad Hunter says in introducing us to this bizarre tale.

But that’s where the now-socialite revelled in the high life as the daughter-in-law of a British billionaire and member of the House of Lords.

That life was in danger of being gone — maybe forever.

The 32-year-old mother of two was briefly rotting in a Belize prison, considered one of the most horrific in the world, charged with killing a high-ranking cop, before controversially being granted bail on Wednesday.

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Hartin was drinking with San Pedro Police Supt. Henry Jemmott, 42, in her apartment in San Pedro. The pair apparently decided to continue boozing on a pier.

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She allegedly told detectives he showed her his Glock. She gave it back and that’s when, she claimed, the gun went off, probably killing Jemmott instantly. Hartin allegedly claimed the large cop fell on her so she pushed him off and he fell into the sea.

Firearms experts allege her explanation for the way the shooting went down is bogus.

Reports say Hartin still has to report to the jail every day as a condition of her bail, but she might only get a fine and no actual jail time.

HONOURABLE MENTION: The week’s fifth-place finisher was last week’s No. 1 piece, a story about a Danish journalist who went above and beyond for an assignment and readers were intrigued –interviewing a man at a swingers club while having sex with him.

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