Lawyers argue over sentence for PQ election-night shooter

Lawyers painted two very different accounts of the crimes of Richard Bain, the man convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a stagehand at the Parti Québecois election night victory rally in September 2012.

Crown and defence square off over amount of time before Richard Bain can be eligible for parole

The Crown and defence squared off Tuesday in the Quebec Court of Appeal Tuesday over the period of parole eligibility for Richard Bain, seen in this court sketch from 2016. (Radio-Canada)

Lawyers painted two very different accounts on Tuesday of the crimes of Richard Bain, the man convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a stagehand at the Parti Québecois election night victory rally in September 2012.

Bain was sentenced in September 2016 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years.

Both the Crown and the defence are appealing the period of parole eligibility. The Crown wants the maximum of 25 years, while the defence is seeking the minimum of 10.

Lawyers presented contrasting pictures of Bain at the Quebec Court of Appeal.

"Richard Henry Bain committed one of the worst crimes in the history of this country," Crown prosecutor Maude Payette told the panel of five judges.

Defence laywer Alan Guttman countered that Bain is "a sick man. If they were to release him today, I don't think they'd have any problems with him."

Prosecutor Muade Payette argued Bain committed one of the worst crimes in Canadian history. (Steve Rukavina, CBC News)

Guttman argued that the original judge, Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer, made several errors in law in deciding the sentence.

"I believe the original judge overemphasized the political nature of this crime," Guttman told the panel, arguing Bain was a disturbed individual, but not a political assassin."

"In his judgment, I think he referred to the political nature 15 different times. This was not political!" Guttman told reporters following the hearing.

Guttman said Bain is still on medication and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in prison.

After being apprehended the night of the shooting, Bain shouted, "The English are waking up!" before getting into a police cruiser.

"He tried to commit a mass murder of a political nature," Payette told the panel.

Richard Bain's lawyer Alan Guttman argued the original judge overemphasized the political nature of the attack when determining the sentence. (Steve Rukavina, CBC News)

She called Bain's crime "atrocious" and "horrible," because he attacked the very essence of democracy.

For that reason, she argued the court must impose the maximum possible amount of time before parole eligibility, 25 years.

Guttman said the only relevant precedent is the case of Denis Lortie, who killed three government employees at the National Assembly in 1984. Lortie was also found guilty of second-degree murder.

"The cases are parallel. It's like a mirror," Guttman said.

Lortie was eligible for parole after 10 years.

The panel of judges will take time to consider the arguments before making a decision.

About the Author

Steve Rukavina

Steve Rukavina is a journalist with CBC Montreal.