The sentencing of Brenton Tarrant starts today. It is expected to last four days.
The focus will of course be on hearing from the victims and families of the victims. With so many killed and wounded, we haven’t focused on them to the same degree as when there is a sole victim such as Grace Millane.
While his motives were political, the consequences of his actions were that 51 families lost a loved one, and there are children growing up without a parent, and parents morning their children etc.
His motivation in undertaking the killings was to cause hatred and a backlash. He failed miserably. It brought New Zealand, and to a degree, the world together. And I do credit Jacinda Ardern for the role she played in that. Her response was genuine and pitch perfect.
At the end of the sentencing phase, he will be sentenced. He will receive a life sentence. The key aspect is what will the minimum period of imprisonment be, before he is eligible for parole.
I hope that he gets Life Without Parole. If killing 51 people in an act of terrorism doesn’t qualify, then nothing ever will. It would also spare the families of the victims from having to endure the nightmare in a few decades times of submitting the the Parole Board. A LWOP sentence would allow them to move on and forget about Tarrant (but of course not forget their loved ones).
But the fact he pleaded guilty might mean the Judge resiles from LWOP. Maybe there was even some deal with Crown Law that if he pleads guilty, they won’t seek LWOP. I hope not. But by pleading guilty he did spare the victims the horror of a trial.
The normal discount for a guilty plea is 25%, if done at the earlier opportunity, His plea was fairly early, so I’d expect any discount might be around 20%.
Hopefully he does still get LWOP, but if not then what might he get. The longest non parole period to date is 30 years for a triple murder. He did not plead guilty though.
I could envision a situation where the non parole period is say 50 years initially but then after a 20% discount is 40 years. So my “pick” for the non-parole period is somewhere between 40 years and no parole eligibility at all.