Justin Bourque was sentenced to life in prison on Friday with no chance of parole for 75 years for killing three RCMP officers and wounding two others in a shooting rampage that terrified residents and locked down this New Brunswick city last June.
The sentence makes legal history as the harshest punishment imposed since the last hanging in Canada in 1962.
Justice David Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench called Mr. Bourque's actions "so horrific" and "one of the most heinous crimes in Canadian history."
He noted that Mr. Bourque purposely targeted police officers because he was motivated by hatred of the authority they represented – and he was obsessed with guns, heavy metal music and video games.
The judge felt that Mr. Bourque showed little remorse for killing Constables Larche, 40, Dave Ross, 32, and Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, and injuring Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen.
"The offender did not stop and throw down his firearms until some 28 hours after the shooting spree began," Justice Smith said. "He only stopped because he was thirsty and tired and outgunned."
Mr. Bourque showed no emotion as the sentence was read. The courtroom was packed with police officers and family members; they were quiet as the verdict was delivered.
The emotion came afterward when Nadine Larche, Rachael Ross and Angela Gevaudan, the wives of the three slain officers, read statements.
"My dear Doug, I spent the 17 happiest years of my life with you," Ms. Larche said. "It is now time to start the healing process as we piece our lives together as best we can."
Ms. Gevaudan said she is choosing not to "give any space" to feeling anger, resentment or hate toward anyone. "I understand that if I did, I would only be contributing to the driving forces behind these kinds of acts," she said.
The sentence will not bring back their husbands but will save their children from being "subjected to coming to parole hearings," added Ms. Larche, who has three daughters. Ms. Ross has two sons and Ms. Gevaudan has a daughter.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, the commanding officer in New Brunswick, believes that the ruling will act as a "deterrent."
The new law brought in by the Conservative government in 2011 allows for a judge to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods for multiple murderers. It is the second time it has been used. Last year, an Alberta man was sentenced to 40 years for multiple murders.
Justice Smith's decision means that Mr. Bourque, 24, will be 99 – if he lives that long – before he can apply to get out of prison. It is not known if he will try to appeal.
The Crown had asked for the maximum sentence; the defence had asked for 50 years.
Mr. Bourque's lawyer, David Lutz, said his client was "resigned" to the sentence – and had believed since he pleaded guilty last August, that is what he would get.
"Given all the law, given all the facts it was the sentence that the judge had no choice but to make," Mr. Lutz said, adding that the judge had little latitude given the way the legislation is written.
Some in the legal community believe that the new law is ripe for a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms section dealing with cruel and unusual punishment, but Mr. Lutz does not. "The legislation was put there for a purpose and that's the purpose," he said.