The Herald reports:
Brenton Harrison Tarrant has today made a shock admission that he was the lone gunman who murdered 51 Muslims at two Christchurch mosques on March 15 last year.
The 29-year-old Australian entered the guilty pleas at a special, hastily-arranged High Court hearing in Christchurch this morning.
Tarrant, who appeared from prison on a screen via audio-visual link (AVL) wearing a grey prison sweatshirt, pleaded guilty to all 51 murder charges.
He also admitted 40 charges of attempted murder relating to the two attacks at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15 last year – and pleaded guilty to one charge of engaging in a terrorist act laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
This is excellent news. No idea why he changed his mind as I thought he wanted his moment in the sun. But this means the victims and their families are spared a long horrible trial, and we also are spared it. Plus Tarrant no longer gets to espouse his ideology in a trial.
So now we can move onto sentencing. There is only one possible sentence in my view – Life without parole. It can be imposed when:
the court that sentences an offender convicted of murder to imprisonment for life is satisfied that no minimum term of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy 1 or more of the purposes stated in subsection (2), the court may order that the offender serve the sentence without parole.
And the purposes are:
(a) holding the offender accountable for the harm done to the victim and the community by the offending:
(b) denouncing the conduct in which the offender was involved:
(c) deterring the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence:
(d) protecting the community from the offender.
I think both (a) and (b) must lead to life without parole. If gunning down 51 people doesn’t qualify, then no murder could ever qualify.
I just hope that there wasn’t an agreement with Crown Law that they won’t ask for life without parole in exchange for a guilty plea.
Anyway again this is a great outcome for the victims, and for all of us.