By Michael MacDonald, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONCTON, N.B.: Justin Bourque was sentenced to serve 75 years in prison before he can apply for parole for the June 4 shooting rampage that killed three RCMP officers and wounded two others in Moncton.
Judge David Smith of the Court of Queen’s Bench in New Brunswick delivered his precedent-setting ruling after a sentencing hearing earlier this week during which Bourque apologized to the families of the Mounties he shot.
Smith said Bourque showed little remorse for his actions, which the judge said were motivated by his hatred for authority.
“This has been difficult for everyone,” Smith said. “The crime committed is one of the worst in Canadian history.”
Bourque’s sentence is the harshest in Canada since the last executions in 1962.
He pleaded guilty in August to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Bourque, 24, faced a mandatory life sentence, so the only issue for Smith to decide was when he could apply for parole.
The Crown sought the maximum sentence of 75 years under a section of the Criminal Code that was amended in 2011, arguing that Bourque’s crimes were among the most heinous this country has seen and they warranted a sentence that would give precedence over rehabilitation.
Defence lawyer David Lutz argued for parole eligibility to be set at 50 years and after the sentence he said the judge had no room to manoeuvre because of the way the law is written.
Lutz said he has no mandate to appeal the sentence, nor has he been retained to handle one, but he doesn’t think an appeal would be successful.
“Given all the law, given all the facts, it was the sentence that the judge had no choice but to make,” he said.
Lutz criticized the law, saying it was “hastily made” with little regard to its consequences. Even so, Lutz said he doesn’t believe the sentence could be appealed on the grounds of cruel and unusual punishment under the Charter of Rights.
After Bourque left court, Lutz said his client didn’t say much, adding that he expected the 75-year sentence.
“He was resigned to it, he’s been resigned to it since the guilty plea,” he said.
The wife of one of the slain RCMP officers thanked her family, friends and the community for their support before speaking of the bond she had with her husband.
“I spent the happiest 17 years of my life with you,” Nadine Larche, the wife of Const. Douglas Larche, said outside court.
“It’s now time for us to start the healing process as we piece our lives together as best we can.”
Assistant commissioner Roger Brown, the commanding officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick, said he doesn’t know if there will ever be a point when the emotional scars from the shooting will fully heal.
“It’s like any tragedy. People say that time heals, but that’s subjective,” Brown said outside the courthouse.
“I just hope and pray that nobody in my position or no other police officers will have to live through this again.”
At his sentencing hearing, a videotaped statement Bourque gave to police after his arrest was entered as evidence. In it, Bourque explains that he wanted to encourage people to rise up against the “soldiers” that defend federal institutions and protect the rich from the poor.
He muses about his strict Catholic upbringing, climate change, evolution, social engineering, class warfare, tyrants, something called the “black curtain” and threats posed by the Russians and the Chinese.
“I know this is going to sound pretty messed up, but I felt pretty accomplished,” he told police.
An agreed statement of facts previously filed with the court says Bourque’s actions were both “planned and deliberate” when he used a Poly Technologies M305, 308-calibre semi-automatic rifle to kill constables Larche, 40, Dave Ross, 32, and Fabrice Gevaudan, 45. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also injured in the shootings.
A 28-hour manhunt for Bourque left much of Moncton paralyzed until his arrest just after midnight on June 6.
The amended Criminal Code provision that factored into Bourque’s sentencing has been used only once before. In September 2013, a judge in Edmonton sentenced an armoured-car guard to life in prison with no chance at parole for 40 years for gunning down four of his colleagues during a robbery in June 2012.
Travis Baumgartner had pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and a charge of attempted murder.
© 2014 The Canadian Press