Born Aug. 15, 1973 in Lagos, Nigeria, Imona-Russel presented a falsified passport when the then 29-year-old arrived in Toronto on April 16, 2003. The document had numerous visa stamps from trips to Canada and the United States but no one was fooled because his photograph didn’t fit in the allotted space.
He immediately sought refugee status and moved into an apartment at 263 Dixon Rd. where he shared a one-bedroom apartment with two men. It is believed he had two cousins living in the building.As the murder victim's uncle correctly--and bitterly--observes: "He took advantage of an immigration and justice system that seems gearted to actually work for the criminal." Indeed. But then it isn't at all hard to con a system that is predicated on multiculti mush.
As part of the screening process for his refugee application, Imona-Russel was tested and by summer he was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He began receiving treatment and counselling at Sunnybrook hospital and was told not to engage in sexual relations without first informing a partner of his medical status.
People who met him in 2003 recall him saying he came to Canada for a better life and to work as a stockbroker. With dark-black skin and a stocky build, he spoke with a refined, British-sounding accent and boasted of having a university degree in business administration and economics, although that has never been proven. He claimed he was a prince back home.
It was at the Etobicoke highrise where he met and started having sex with a retired flight attendant in her 50s. She had battled severe depression but was unaware of his HIV diagnosis. The relationship did not last long because he was too controlling and was becoming violent, she would later testify. They continued to have sex sporadically, however.
From September 2003 to the following March, he worked at Multi-Industries as a general labourer. That was his only paying job in Canada. By the spring of 2004, his refugee claim was rejected and a deportation order issued. But he then asked to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
In June 2004, Imona-Russel moved out of the apartment and rented a bedroom in Unit 77 of a townhouse complex at 246 John Garland Blvd. in north Etobicoke. By July, he was receiving $900 a month in disability benefits — not because of the HIV but because he had injured his hand back in Nigeria and was unable to work.
While it is unclear if he had any other sources of income, he had enough money to pay his $400 rent, drink beer, frequent karaoke bars, rent DVDs, and occasionally order Chinese food.