Tarrant sentenced to life without parole

This afternoon Justice Mander condemned the Christchurch mosque killer Brenton Tarrant and sentenced him to life without parole.

“A life sentence without parole… The rhetorical question – if not here, then when?”

On each of the 51 charges of murder (charges 1-51) you are sentenced to life imprisonment. I order that you serve the sentences without parole.

On each of the 40 charges of attempted murder (charges 52-91) you are sentenced to concurrent terms of 12 years’ imprisonment.

On the charge of committing a terrorist act (charge 92) you are sentenced to life imprisonment.

The sentences will be served concurrently, which means little with a no parole life sentence .

Judgment: R v Tarrant
(Note: start from paragraph 145 to skip some harrowing details and go to the sentencing)

Date of Judgment 27 August 2020

Summary Offender pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of committing a terrorist act after shooting worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch. Court held that no minimum period of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy the purpose of sentencing. Offender sentenced to life imprisonment without parole under s 103 (2A) Sentencing Act 2002.

From the judgment:

The distribution of your manifesto, the livestreaming of your crimes, during which you addressed your online audience and provided a running commentary;andthe affectation of decorating your weapons and playing music, were all undertaken to obtain maximum attention and notorietyboth to yourself and your cause. You saw your interview with police as an opportunity to boast about what you had done and to rationalise your actions. If anything more is required beyond your murder of innocent lives, these features point to the depth of your motivation, as does the long period of time over which you planned this terrorism and the lengths you went to execute your ideologically-driven crimes.

lives, these features point to the depth of your motivation, as does the long period of time over which you planned this terrorism and the lengths you went to execute your ideologically-drivencrimes.[173]I am sceptical of your recent representations of having abandoned the ideology that motivated you. You have admitted having lied in the course of earlier assessments and both health assessors express reservations regarding the extentto whichyour most recent statements and changing motives can be relied upon.Your admission that you were aware that what you intended to do was wrong,andyet,thatyou went ahead despite such knowledge,points both to the hold your extremism had over you and its potential to continue to influence you in the most catastrophic of ways.

While you have expressed a willingness to engage in some form of restorative justice process inthe future,it is not apparent from the reports I have read that you have shown muchinterest in your victims, let alone any remorse or empathy for the people you have killed and wounded, or for the wider harm you have caused.You haveto datebeendismissive of any potential rehabilitative interventions.While perhaps reflective of your fluctuating moods,your pastresponseshave beenthat you do not want help; that professionals do not have the training or expertise to deal with your issues. More recently you have indicated an unwillingness to engage with the Department of Corrections.

On the sentence:

Having given the matter much consideration, I am satisfied that no minimum period of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy the legitimate need to hold you to account for the harm you have done to the community. Nor do I consider that any minimum term of imprisonment would be sufficient to denounce your crimes. The nature and circumstances of your offending, unprecedented in this country, are such that I consider the requirement that you serve your sentences of life imprisonment for murder without parole is a necessary sanction that provides a proportionate response.

If I was to impose a minimum period of imprisonment in an endeavour to meet the purposes that I am required to achieve in sentencing you for murdering 51 people, it could not be less than your natural life. If the murders at the two mosques were approached as separate attacks,each realistically would have to attract minimum terms in the region of 40 years.In the case of the Al Noor Mosque where you murdered 44 people,a significantly higher term would have to be imposed. Even after factoring in your guilty pleas,that feature is quickly superseded by the need to reflect the associated offending that includes your convictions for attempting to murder 40 other people, all of whom suffered serious gunshot wounds and, most, lasting life-altering injuries. In committing this terrible act you of course attempted to kill many more.

The need to make an order that you serve your sentence without parole does not primarily arise from deterrence nor from the need to protect the community from you, powerful as both considerations are when dealing with an offender capable of such terrible crimes and the necessity of delivering a cogent message that the commission of such an atrocity will be met with the most condign response. However, I am mindful that as the years pass and you become a much older man,the risk you pose could be reassessed.The need for deterrence is also clear but the deluded motivation of zealots capable of such crimes, with their overvalued beliefs that feed such extreme violence,are less likely to be tempered by the fear of penal consequences no matter how severe.

Your crimes, however, are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die,it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and enunciation. Those legitimate penological grounds for continued detention will remain. At nearly 30 years of age, you are a relatively young man and the justifications for your continued detention over time may shift as the years pass. Some may change but I do not consider, however long the length of your incarceration during your lifetime, that it could, evenin a modest way, at one for what you have done. Ordinarily such an approach would be a poor guarantee of just and proportionate punishment, but I consider yours one of those exceedingly rare cases which is different.

For completeness, I record that if I am wrong tosentenceyou on the basis that the Court retains a residual discretion todecidewhether to impose a life sentence without parole,despite having concluded that no minimum term of imprisonment would be sufficient tohold you to account for the harm you have done,or to denounce your conduct, a whole-of-life sentence would have to follow in any event.

Patrick Gower has done a brief summary of the judge’s address on Twitter:

“Vicious malevolence.” “Pitiless cruelty.” ““Warped and malignant ideas.”

“Anathema to our values.” “It has no place here.” “You remain entirely self-obsessed.” “Your offending is without precedence.”

“Such malice, such callous indifference.”

“Even if you are detained until you die it will not contain enough punishment and denunciation.”

To victims: “I wish them peace and happiness.”

Leave a comment

24 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  27th August 2020

    Pete, in this particular case the Chinese have a far superior solution.
    A shot to the head , followed by a bill for the bullet to the parents.

    Reply
    • I don’t know; life in prison in what will virtually be solitary confinement sounds like a worse punishment than a bullet could be. If he lives to 80, he’ll have spent 50+ years in a cell alone.
      It’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to visit him or even make a phone call. It will be a living death. He’ll be wishing that someone would put a bullet in his head.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  27th August 2020

        Very unlikely . These sorts of mass murders, young men with twisted ideas are normally very compliant in prison so no need for ‘solitary’. However they do busy themselves with legal maneuvers with the prison system and government.
        Likely he will be in segregation can can mix with other misfits who have long sentences, he may end up doing various horticulture projects.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  27th August 2020

          The bros would kill him…he holds the mana as NZs No1 criminal. That’s the way they think.

          I’m wondering if this chap was on roids, and these tipped him over the edge?

          Reply
          • Roids ? Do you mean steroids ? He is a little squit of a fellow, so they haven’t done him much good, if so.

            I doubt if anyone will see him as having any mana. The MMM bros went on sentry duty at the local mosque, they didn’t seem to think that he had any mana.If someone killed him, it wouldn’t be to knock him off the top place. Not all ‘bros’ think exactly alike, I would imagine.

            I would think it unlikely that he would be let to associate with other prisoners, for his own safety if nothing else.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  27th August 2020

              Steroids ?
              He was quite muscular at the time of his arrest, he had been a personal trainer/ gym habitue but it seems that he hasnt been able to continue.

      • Gerrit

         /  27th August 2020

        No as a prisoner he has rights that are offered to All other prisoners. Phone access, reading material, computer use, exercise, visitations, etc., etc.

        UN charters, which NZL subscribe to and Andrew Little promotes, has values that must be followed. You cannot lock a prisoner in a cell for 23 hours per day with nothing to do forever.

        Sad to see so much vindictiveness especially from people who are advocating for more prisoner rights

        He will be locked up at great expenses in a secure, from other prisoners, location, but he still has rights. For to deny him those prisoner rights, even having done the most heinous crime, means every other prisoners rights are also under threat.

        Reply
        • If he has access to a computer, it will be limited as to what it can do, and I suspect that his phone use will be public and monitored.He is highly unlikely to have his own phone.

          His visits will also be limited and controlled.

          He seemed to think it a big joke last night; the camera stopped for a minute but it was obvious that he was laughing. He won’t have another laugh for a while, I would imagine.

          Reply
  2. BobJ

     /  27th August 2020

    Warning – do not stumble into reading section 2 – The Facts in the judgment without a strong stomach, horrendous reading and wish we now had either a death penalty or a long slow death with excruciating pain penalty.

    Reply
    • Yes, skipping to start from paragraph 145 is a good idea.

      Reply
      • I think that his sentence could well be worse than the death penalty and that he might wish that he’d been given this. A friend was a bankrobber in his youth and spent 7 years in an Australian prison, some of the time in solitary, so has a good idea of what Tarrant’s life will be like. Tarrrant could live for another 50 years in what will be akin to solitary confinement, unable to top himself because he’ll be watched every moment from the sound of it, unable even to use the loo in private. Every day will be like the one before and the one coming.

        To me that is more of a punishment than the death penalty could be.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  27th August 2020

          Yes, but a much more costly one. It is the price we pay for being able to correct miscarriages of justice which is unfortunately necessary. It would be good if he can make some contributions to his upkeep.

          Reply
          • Any contribution would be minimal. I wish that he could be sent back to Australia to let them have the cost of his punishment.

            Reply
            • The PM’s idea that if the victims wanted him to be sent back, then he might be, has to be wishful thinking.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  27th August 2020

              He may eventually be able to write something that could stop others doing anything similar.

            • duperez

               /  27th August 2020

              I’d buy him the togs

            • The PDTs seem to want to keep him here; how bizarre.I don’t. We can use the money for more worthwhile projects.

              I can’t see him being able to do anything to stop others doing the same thing, or even wanting to.

  3. lurcher1948

     /  27th August 2020

    A fine example of the knuckle dragging australian who have called most visitors, DOLE BLUDGERS,every NZ visitor has meet an Australian who hates us as we are New Zealanders….but TARRANT IS AN AUSTRALIAN,NO SUPRISES THERE,underarm bowlers

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  27th August 2020

      Absolute rubbish, Lurch. Even Tarrant didn’t hate us, he hated Muslims.

      Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  27th August 2020

      Lurcher, you are pathetic.
      Period!

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  27th August 2020

        Lurchy is affected by phases of the moon. He’s in his waxing cycle.

        Reply
        • Patricia

           /  27th August 2020

          Is Lurch drunk? Never post when you’re drunk – it’s not a good look.

          Reply
          • His comparison of the massacre to underarm bowling is a gross insult to the people murdered.

            Tarrant chose NZ because we had no history of terrorism (except for the French pair being sent here by their government to blow up the Rainbow Warrior) He wanted to show that nowhere was safe.

            He hated Muslims, not Kiwis, as Alan said.

            Reply
    • Fight4nz

       /  27th August 2020

      Ham fisted but accurate.

      Reply

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