MONCTON, N.B. – Justin Bourque targeted police officers because of “the badge they wore” when he shot three RCMP officers dead and wounded two others in Moncton, N.B., the Crown said as a sentencing hearing got underway Monday.
Crown lawyer Cameron Gunn began laying out his case that Bourque should have his parole ineligibility set at 75 years while serving a life sentence for three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Bourque, 24, targeted the officers “because of who they were, what they represent, the badge they wore,” Gunn told the Court of Queen’s Bench.
A single conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence and a ban on applying for parole for 25 years. But Gunn is arguing the 25-year parole ineligibility period for each murder conviction should be imposed consecutively, which means Bourque wouldn’t be allowed to apply for parole until he was 99 years old.
If granted, that would be the harshest sentence in Canada since the last executions in 1962.
“The question you will have to answer at the end of this is, ‘What is the value of a human life?’ ” Gunn said before a packed courtroom.
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.
The officers were responding to a report of a man carrying firearms in a residential neighbourhood in the northwest area of Moncton on June 4.
Victim impact statements from the families of the three slain officers were read into the court record Monday.
Ross’s wife Rachael, who gave birth to a son weeks after her husband’s death, spoke of the struggles of raising her two young sons without him.
“My husband will not be there for the milestones that my son will reach. …. Every milestone will be a reminder that my sons have lost their father,” she said in a recording played in court.
“He was ripped away from us. … Everyday I just wish he would come home. Our lives are shattered.”
Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also wounded in the shootings and later released from hospital.
On the day of the shootings at around 6 p.m., Bourque bought three boxes of ammunition but a friend of his didn’t think it was unusual because they would go to a shooting range together, Gunn said.
Bourque gave a statement to police after his arrest in which he expresses dissatisfaction with his job and also wanted to harm the oil industry. A recording of that statement was played in court in which he refers to setting some gas stations on fire but dumped that plan.
“I decided to wing it from there,” Bourque says.
Gunn said Bourque, dressed in camouflage and carrying the semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun, walked along a road passing neighbours.
“It appeared he was on a mission,” Gunn said.
The first of multiple 911 calls came in at 7:18 p.m.
“There’s a guy walking up the road with a gun at his side,” the caller says in a recording played in court. “He walked right by us. … He’s all dressed army-wise.”
Gunn said other material will be presented to the court including photos and videos that may be “offensive or disturbing.”
A 2011 amendment to the Criminal Code allows judges to extend parole ineligibility in the case of multiple murders.
The law has been used only once since it was changed. 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.
As the two-day sentencing hearing began, the RCMP issued a statement from the wives of Ross, Gevaudan and Larche asking the media to respect their privacy.