Justin Bourque evidence now public, after judge's ruling
Media sought to have video, audio and documents released after Crown, defence applied to seal them
A judge ruled today that court documents related to the sentencing of Moncton Mountie killer Justin Bourque be made public, including a statement the New Brunswick man made to police after being arrested.
During the three-hour statement, police asked Bourque how he felt after the shootings.
"Well honestly, I know this is going to sound really messed up, but I actually felt pretty accomplished," he said.
"I know you probably think that's really sick but, you know, it's just when you see what's happened through the centuries and, you know, you just compare what happened here, you know, it's just, it's sad, they might have had a wife and kids, but every soldier has a wife and kids, right? And it's all about whose side you chose and they chose the wrong one."
During his sentencing hearing, held Oct. 27 and 28, Bourque had expressed anger at his behaviour during the interview.
Several media outlets, including CBC and The Canadian Press, sought to have the video, audio and other documents introduced at the hearing to be made public after the Crown and defence applied to have them sealed.
Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice David Smith's agreed with the media outlets on Friday.
"There is no evidence submitted by the Crown or counsel for the defence which would demonstrate that it is in the interest of the administration of justice to ban the video of the offender’s confession or to ban the exhibits," Smith stated in his 11-page decision.
“Canadian courts, as a general rule, are open and transparent. The open-court principle is important in that it allows the public to go behind court decisions to see what further determined or influenced its decision; in other words, why the court decided what it did,” he said.
Bourque, 24, was sentenced in October to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years for killing three RCMP officers in Moncton on June 4 and wounding two others.
It is the longest sentence without parole eligibility in Canadian history.
Bourque had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Important to public confidence
Media lawyer David Coles had argued the 19 exhibits submitted by the Crown and defence during Bourque's sentencing hearing should be released because they were important to helping the public understand what happened.
"I mean, our courts are open. And the transcripts and exhibits that are entered into the courts are open for review so that people can decide whether they agree or disagree with the judge or agree or disagree with the law. And that's what gives the public confidence the court system is operating as it should," Coles said.
The Crown and defence had submitted affidavits from RCMP Staff Sgt. Ross Gorman, and Lise Godbout, a psychologist assigned to the RCMP, in support of their motion to seal the documents.
Gorman said he had spoken to the widows of the slain officers and there were items they did not want released because they may evoke sad memories for them and their children.
"From a psychological standpoint, it would not be in the best interests of involved members and the families of the deceased members that the media have access to all of the exhibits," Godbout argued.
Bourque had also opposed the release of the interview he gave to police shortly after his arrest.
But the judge noted Bourque had given the statement willingly and that it was part of the evidence referred to extensively during the sentencing hearing.
The documents being fought over include that statement, a video a citizen captured of one of the officers being shot, photos depicting the officers’ injuries, and audio of police radio transmissions.
The RCMP officers who were killed on June 4 were:
- Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John.
- Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que.
- Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally from Boulogne-Billancourt, France.
The officers who were wounded were:
- Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois.
- Const. Marie Darlene Goguen.
With files from Rachel Cave