The man charged over the Christchurch mosque shootings faces an unprecedented prison term if found guilty, a veteran criminal defence barrister says.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, appeared in Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning. He faced one murder charge, but police say more are likely.
Belinda Sellars QC, who specialises in murder cases, said the offender was likely to face an “extraordinary” minimum non-parole term if found guilty of the shooting – given the number of casualties was far in excess of previous mass-murder cases.
I don’t believe there will be a finite non-parole term. Thankfully we now have another option.
There is also a little known clause in the 2010 Sentencing Act that was overshadowed by the three strikes law at the time. That clause introduces the possibility of life without parole for crimes attracting a sentence of more than 10 years. The clause has never been used.
Once he is found guilty, he must be sentenced to life without parole. If murdering 50 people doesn’t qualify for life without parole, then what would?