Mohamed Sail trial: Dead man’s sister recounts effort to retrieve phone from accused

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Someone killed Jeremy Cook over his lost cellphone.

The question for a London jury to answer is who fired the gun.

The choices have been narrowed down to two: Mohamed Sail, 26, who is on trial for second-degree murder, or Muhab Sultan, 23, a London native who had moved to Calgary and died after he waded into the Rideau River in Ottawa while running from the police.

Sail was the passenger in a car driven by Sultan on June 14, 2015, when 18-year-old Cook and his sister Kayla approached the car at a north London McDonald’s where they believe they had tracked Jeremy’s missing phone.

Today, at Sail’s trial in London, the jury heard Kayla describe the harrowing moments before her brother was shot to death.

Her testimony came after a detailed opening address by Middlesex County deputy Crown attorney Fraser Ball, who outlined the senseless and violent way Cook’s final moments played out.

He and his sister lived in student housing with some other roommates not far from the McDonald’s. Kayla was planning to attend Fanshawe College, while Jeremy was in a carpentry apprenticeship program.

That night, they and a group of friends headed downtown by cab to a bar to celebrate a birthday. It appears Jeremy Cook left his cellphone in one of the cabs.

After heading home and the party had cleared, Jeremy Cook called his missing cellphone and a man sounding drunk picked up.

Jeremy woke up his sister at about 4:30 a.m., and used the phone-tracking app on her phone to locate the missing device.

They could see the phone had only 10 per cent of its battery life left. And it wasn’t far away.

“If it dies, there’s no way of getting it back,” Kayla Cook testified. “We decided to go get the phone.”

Kayla Cook drove the two of them to the restaurant and could see by the app that a car driving through the takeout window had the phone in it.

It was about to turn left onto Highbury Avenue when the Cooks approached the car.

“Hey guys, did you happen to find a cellphone?” Kayla Cook said she asked the three men in the car. Her brother stood behind her by the driver’s side.

The response was a quick no, before the back-seat passenger got out, high-fived the other two men and left.

Kayla Cook said she explained to the two remaining men – who the Crown said were Sultan in the driver’s seat and Sail in the passenger’s seat – that they had tracked to the phone to the car.

Sail, while reaching into the back seat, told her to call the phone. When she did, he had the phone in his hand. It was vibrating.

Sail said “hello” into the phone. “I answered back ‘hello,’ ” Kayla Cook said.

She said she didn’t think she needed to prove anything else to the men about who owned the phone.

To this point, the conversation had been civil, but Sail wanted her to punch in the locked pass code. She reached in with her left hand, but Sail kept pulling the phone away.

Meanwhile, Sultan said to Sail, “She’s going to steal the phone.”

Kayla Cook reached in a little farther. Jeremy Cook, who was still behind his sister, was getting exasperated.

“Man, just let her punch in the code,” he said.

Those would be the last words Kayla Cook would ever hear her brother say.

Just as she punched in the last number, Sultan put his foot on the gas.

Sail pulled the phone out of her reach and Kayla Cook tried to step back. But as the car drove off, she was knocked backward onto the ground.

And Jeremy Cook was hanging onto the driver’s side window. His feet were off the ground and the car was speeding away.

In the Crown’s opening statement, Ball laid out the Crown’s case for what happened next. He said the two witnesses are expected to testify the silver Mazda sped north with Jeremy Cook hanging off the side, his feet scraping on the ground.

One witness said the car looked like it was “being driven by a crazy drunk guy” at 70 or 80 km/h.

The car turned into the nearby Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot where another witness, who was dumpster diving, saw it gear down and stop.

That witness and a security guard at an adjacent property heard two gunshots, before hearing someone say “Drive, drive, drive.”

The car peeled out of the parking lot, leaving Jeremy Cook was fatally injured on the ground. He had been shot in the shoulder and chest.

The car was spotted by a police officer speeding south on Highbury Avenue. Another witness at an apartment building was awoken after the car struck a fence and a telephone pole. It was abandoned a short time later. A gold casing from a single bullet was found inside.

Sail later knocked on a stranger’s door, claiming his girlfriend had kicked him out and he needed a cab. The cab driver took him to two destination. Sail had no money, but left his wallet with all his identification in it with the cab driver.

The gun that was used to kill Jeremy Cook was found a month later in Toronto.

Ball said two months before the shooting, police intercepted a conversation during which Sail was trying to purchase a 40-calibre prohibited semi-automatic gun similar to the weapon found.

The jury heard from three witnesses Wednesday. The trial continues Thursday.

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