Justin Bourque to serve 75 years before parole eligibility for RCMP killings

The Canadian Press
Published on October 31, 2014

Justin Bourque, who faces three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, has been found fit to stand trial. He appeared in Moncton Thursday, July 31, 2014.

©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

MONCTON, N.B. – Justin Bourque has been 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 Friday after a sentencing hearing earlier this week during which Bourque apologized to the families of the Mounties he shot.

“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.

The defence argued for parole eligibility to be set at 50 years.

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 Dave Ross, 32, Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, and Douglas Larche, 40. 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.