Justin Bourque has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for 75 years for killing three RCMP officers and wounding two others, a New Brunswick judge has ruled. Bourque, 24, plead guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder of RCMP officers.
Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice David Smith handed down Bourque’s sentence in what he called a “difficult case.” He said it was, “One of the most horrific crimes in the history of Canada.”
When Smith delivered his sentence, Bourque stood to listen and didn’t react when the decision was handed down. Smith said no sentence could fix the despair that Bourque caused by his shooting spree. The judge said the five life sentences are mandatory, and the only question was the length of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.
This sentence means that Bourque will not be eligible for parole until he is 99 years old. Smith said Bourque’s decision to plead guilty is to his credit, but given the evidence was so overwhelming in the case, it doesn’t count for a lot.
The judge said Bourque showed little remorse for the crimes until the end of the sentencing hearing when he addressed the families. Smith spent the first part of his decision going over Bourque’s past. He described Bourque as being obsessed with guns, video games, heavy metal music and dependent on marijuana. He said Bourque felt oppressed by the police even though he had no criminal record.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc was present for the sentencing. Outside the Moncton courtroom, Roger Brown, the RCMP’s commanding officer in New Brunswick, said he was relieved with the sentence. “Am I happy with the verdict? I am,” Brown told reporters.
He said he was also happy with the quick manner of the sentencing process. Brown said it has been a difficult time for the families of the slain and wounded officers, the RCMP and people in Moncton. “The healing must now start,” Brown said.
The CRCVC offers our deepest condolences to the families of Doug, Fabrice and Dave. Six young children lost their fathers in a horrific act of violence and the road ahead will not be easy for them. We hope that the families will find some comfort in knowing that the sentence sets a precedent in Canada and that the public will be protected from the shooter.
12 September 2013 – In Edmonton, on September 11th, families of the victims expressed their overall pleasure with the sentence given to multiple killer, Travis Baumgartner, of 40 years without parole for killing his co-workers. Yet, their ongoing pain was also clear.
Baumgartner, the former armoured car guard who shot four of his co-workers, three fatally, in a robbery on the University of Alberta campus in June 2012, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years. It is the harshest sentence handed down in Canada since Arthur Lucas was executed in 1962 for the murder of a police informant.
Associate Chief Justice John Rooke described Baumgartner’s crime as unspeakable, outrageous, cowardly and cold-blooded. Baumgartner, showing “absolutely no compassion for life,” executed the guards in cold blood, shooting three in the back of the head at point blank range, Rooke said. The fourth guard was “ambushed, taken by surprise with no chance.”
While Rooke’s voice cracked as he quoted excerpts from the victim impact statements, Baumgartner remained expressionless in the prisoner’s box. In his decision, Rooke considered two aggravating factors: that the crime was planned and was a breach of trust, saying Baumgartner was hired specifically to keep his colleagues safe.
Rooke agreed to a joint request from the Crown and defence that Travis Baumgartner, 22, be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years, setting a precedent under legislation passed in 2011 that allows judges to hand out consecutive sentences to multiple murderers.
Reaction to sentencing
Chief Crown prosecutor Steve Bilodeau said the sentence sends a message that in cases of multiple murder, it matters that more than one person has died.
Bilodeau said Baumgartner’s sentence indicates how strongly the community feels about the victims of violence, adding that the legal change came about because past victims felt that justice wasn’t being done.
Outside the courtroom, the families of the victims spoke about the ruling, many expressing support for the judge’s decision.
“[Rooke] gave us some hope that within our justice system we can count on the fact that when there is a multiple murder … there is going to be honouring of more than one victim, more than one loss of life,” said Brian Ilesic’s aunt, Janet Stosky.
“I’m not sure that when you are going through this level of pain if you can ever feel satisfied with the justice that is available … but I do believe they worked very hard for us and I think that we’re grateful. And I think that we’ve been honoured today.”
However, Eddie Rejano’s brother Joseph said nothing will replace the loss of his brother, who was also the father of two.
“They’re growing up without their father. You can’t explain that to a child,” he said.
“It’s the system” he said. “You call it justice, sure, justice — but my way of justice is back in the old days you hang them. That’s justice for what he did.”
“It’s one of the better sentences we’ve ever had in Canada, considering the death penalty is out now,” said Victor Shegelski, “but my wife is still dead. And now I get to contribute my tax money to keep her killer alive – so that’s definitely disappointing.”
Baumgartner pleaded guilty in the deaths of Michelle Shegelski, 26, Eddie Rejano, 39, and Brian Ilesic, 35, at HUB Mall, a student residence and indoor food court. A fourth guard, Matthew Schuman, was critically injured in the shooting.