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Canada ‘I am sorry’ for RCMP shootings, Bourque tells sentencing hearing

An artist's sketch shows the sentencing hearing for Justin Bourque at Moncton Law Courts on Oct. 27, 2014.

CAROL TAYLOR/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justin Bourque apologized to the families of the three RCMP officers he gunned down last June, describing himself as an "arrogant pissant" who took the easy way out from a life he felt was going nowhere.

"I want the families to know your husband is dead, your son is dead, your brother is dead, your friend is dead – it does mean something to me," he told a courtroom in Moncton on Tuesday morning at the conclusion of his sentencing hearing.

The wives of three officers broke their silence, too, issuing a statement, saying the facts revealed during the proceedings have helped with the "healing process." The women – Nadine Larche, Rachael Ross and Angela Gevaudan – also said they shared their grief with the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was buried Tuesday, and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was run down last week in what the federal government has described as an act of terrorism.

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"We want to publicly express our condolences to them. We all share the same grief, that of losing a loved one," they wrote.

All five men were targeted because of their uniforms.

Meanwhile, Crown attorney Cameron Gunn, who laid out all of the facts on Monday, argued for three consecutive life sentences, or 75 years in prison, without the chance of parole. It would mean that Mr. Bourque would be 99 years old before being eligible for parole. A change in the law in 2011 allowed for the sentences to be served consecutively – and if granted, it would be the harshest sentence in Canadian history since the death penalty was last used in 1962.

It's important "to denounce these crimes in the strongest possible [way], to even place value on the lives of the officers who were wounded and the lives of the officers who were murdered makes denunciation paramount in this case over rehabilitation," Mr. Gunn said.

Constables Dave Ross, Douglas Larche and Fabrice Gevaudan were killed; officers Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois were wounded in the June 4 attack that had an entire Moncton neighbourhood on lockdown for 30 hours.

Both of Mr. Bourque's guns were legally obtained, according to the prosecutor; he had no criminal record prior to the incident.

Defence lawyer David Lutz, asked for 50 years – but did not put up much of an argument. His client pleaded guilty in August to the three counts of first-degree murder and did not dispute the majority of the facts presented to the court on Monday.

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Justice David Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench will deliver his decision on Friday.

His voice quivering as he addressed the court, Mr. Bourque, 24, presented as an entirely different man from the one seen Monday in the videotaped statement he gave to police after he was captured last June.

During the police interview, he was cocky and casual, describing shooting at the officers as he rambled on about standing up to authority and how he felt he was mistreated by police when he was captured – and noting that the dead officers probably had wives and kids but "every soldier has a wife and kids. It's all about what side you choose."

Addressing the court on Tuesday, he said: "I wasn't a soldier. All I did was take the easy way out. I did nothing good; nothing to be proud of."

Mr. Gunn painted Mr. Bourque as a man without remorse, who thought of himself as a "modern-day William Wallace," one of the leaders of the Scottish Wars of Independence who was executed in London in 1305.

But he noted that Mr. Bourque's plan to provoke citizens to rebel against authority backfired.

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"Instead of motivating society to rise up against the police, the actions of Mr. Bourque motivated society to come to the aid of police," he said. "Mr. Bourque has a twisted view of society. He is a soldier looking for a war. What he didn't do is find one. So he made one."

Mr. Lutz put up little defence: "Mr. Bourque did take three lives … how can we say that any one of those officers' lives are worth less than the other. You can't."

"He is resigned to whatever sentence the court imposes," the defence lawyer said, comparing Mr. Bourque's crimes to those of child killer Clifford Olson. "He knows that his life is over for all intents and purposes. He recognized that the best possibility he has for anything in life [is to be] allowed to apply for parole when he is 74 years old as opposed to 99 years old."

Mr. Lutz said Mr. Bourque's thought process is "extremely defective" and his client recognizes that.

As the court proceedings ended, Mr. Bourque said his actions are "something that I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life and you guys are going to have to live with for rest of your life and you have the worst of it. … But I am sorry. … I suppose I shouldn't say anything more."

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