Christchurch: The gunman who murdered 51 people at two Christchurch mosques last year has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, the longest penalty ever imposed by a New Zealand court.
Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, was sentenced by Justice Mander at the High Court in Christchurch on Thursday, local media reported. In March, Tarrant unexpectedly pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act.
His sentence was delivered after a harrowing four-day hearing in which more than 90 victims and families presented impact statements to the court.
On March 15 last year, the lone gunman drove to a mosque in central Christchurch and opened fire with modified semi-automatic weapons, live-streaming the shootings to social media. More than 40 worshippers were killed there. He then drove across town to a second mosque and continued his rampage.
Tarrant was apprehended by two police officers who ran his car off the road. He was on his way to another target, police said.
It was the most horrific event in living memory in New Zealand and shocked the relatively peaceful South Pacific nation. The government swiftly banned the military style weapons and assault rifles used in the massacre.
Tarrant fired his lawyers and represented himself in court, raising fears he might use the sentencing as a platform to promote hateful views. However, he chose not to speak or offer any explanations for his crimes. – Bloomberg