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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Tarrant to die behind bars

Australian mass killer Brenton Tarrant will die behind bars.

The 29-year-old white supremacist has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for last year’s Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attacks that killed 51 people and injured 40 more.

Handing down the historic sentence in the Christchurch High Court today, Justice Cameron Mander ordered that Tarrant never be released from maximum-security prison.

“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 the the community,” said Justice Mander.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh told the court the “enormity of the offending in this case is without comparison in New Zealand’s criminal history”.

Former Grafton High School student, Tarrant, elected not to speak during the sentencing. Standby counsel acting for the terrorist today, Philip Hall said he had been given just one instruction.

“That instruction is that Mr Tarrant does not oppose the application that he should be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on the convictions where that is open to the court,” Mr Hall said.

Tarrant initially pleaded not guilty to the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques on March 15, 2019, which he live-streamed on Facebook via a camera strapped to the military-style helmet he wore during the deadly massacre. He changed his plea to guilty in March and also dismissed his legal team.

Mr Zarifeh said the Crown’s belief was that Tarrant still showed no remorse and said there should be no concession given for the guilty plea.

“The nature of the offending itself completely overwhelms the effect of the guilty plea,” he said.

Tarrant simply nodded in court when asked if he was aware he had the right to make submissions.

Amicus curiae Kerry Cook, who was appointed to present arguments against life without parole, said the court was obliged to recognise the “objective utilitarian benefit” of Tarrant’s guilty plea.

“The views he held then are not the views he holds now in relation to that, and there may be some further shift in the future,” Mr Cook said.

“The point is, even during the year of his incarceration there has been movement in his views. That movement includes the offer to meet the victims in a restorative justice process.”

The court heard that in a probation report prepared for the sentencing, Tarrant described his offending as “abhorrent and irrational” and said nothing good had come of it.

However the report also stated that Tarrant showed “cognitive distortions about his motives” and his psychiatrist questioned the reliability of his expressions of remorse and disavowal of his previous views.

“He had shown himself capable of careful planning of extreme violence over extended time periods and that the possibility of terrorist acts, albeit in prison at some future point, should not be discounted,” Mr Zarifeh said of the psychiatrist’s report.

More than 220 victim impact statements were read and provided to the court since Monday in what is hoped has been a tragically cathartic four-day sentencing for the families affected by the mass murderer’s actions.

Tarrant will soon be on his way back to the place he will call home for the remainder of his life – New Zealand’s only specialist maximum-security prison unit at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, on Auckland’s North Shore.

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