Justin Bourque evidence ruling likely within 1 month
Media organizations want documents, recordings in sentencing of Mountie killer to be made public
Several media outlets are seeking copies of exhibits presented in the case of Mountie killer Justin Bourque after the Crown and defence applied to have them sealed.
The exhibits include copies of video, audio and documents presented in the sentencing hearing for the Mountie killer.
After a full-day hearing in Moncton, N.B., on Monday, Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Smith said he would have a decision in a couple of weeks to a month.
Lawyer David Coles, representing a consortium of media organizations including the CBC, argued Monday for the release of the exhibits so people can have confidence in the judicial system.
Last month, Smith sentenced Bourque, 24, 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.
Coles argued Monday that releasing the tapes and other evidence will help with debate and informed discussion about the precedent-setting sentence for Bourque.
"People can't see what you saw," stated Coles. "People need to understand your decision."
Releasing the exhibits would also be helpful in an examination of whether there were any problems or issues with police equipment or protocols on June 4.
The Crown prosecutor is trying to block the release of photos as well as video and audio evidence shown at Bourque's sentencing hearing over fears that it could "revictimize" people in Moncton,
Cameron Gunn told a Moncton courtroom on Monday that if the evidence is released to the public, it could end up anywhere.
Media organizations, including the CBC, contend the information should be released because it is important in helping the public understand what happened.
But Gunn said the release would hurt the children of the victims and would have a significant impact on the community.
The Crown prosecutor told the court Monday that he has no problem with transcripts and some selected slides being disclosed, but he does not believe video or audio should be put into the public realm.
Gunn said he supports the principle of open court, but that does not come without restrictions.
Bourque is also objecting to the possible release of his interview, through his lawyer David Lutz, who strongly objected to its possible release.
Lutz said Bourque objects because he doesn't want the families of the slain officers further victimized. And Bourque is also concerned about his own family, said Lutz.
Bourque's statement to police borders on the obscene, said Lutz, and he has no doubt the media will lose control of the tapes and they will become an internet sensation.
Media organizations involved in the case presented their arguments through Coles on Monday.
Joining CBC in the application for access to the evidence are the Globe and Mail, CTV News, Global News, The Canadian Press, and Brunswick News, which is the parent company of all of New Brunswick's daily English-language newspapers and a number of weekly papers.
Bourque pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder of RCMP officers.
Crimes among 'most horrific' in Canadian history
During sentencing, the judge described the case as "one of the most horrific crimes in the history of Canada."
On June 4, Bourque went on a shooting rampage that resulted in a 28-hour lockdown in the northern part of the city and a manhunt by hundreds of officers from across the country.
Smith said the sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and his main concern was deterrence.
Up until 2011, the maximum sentence a multiple killer could be given in Canada was life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
In 2011, however, the federal government passed a new law that allows judges to sentence offenders to consecutive periods of parole ineligibility when convicted of more than one murder.
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 are:
- Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois.
- Const. Marie Darlene Goguen.