Nova Scotia

Co-accused in Halifax Shopping Centre shooting plot sentenced to 10 years

Randall Steven Shepherd, the man accused of plotting a Valentine's Day attack at a Halifax mall last year, was sentenced Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Judge sentenced Randall Steven Shepherd to 10 years in prison, less 974 days for time-served

Randall Steven Shepherd has been in custody since his arrest in February 2015. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Randall Steven Shepherd, the man accused of plotting a Valentine's Day attack at a Halifax mall last year, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Justice Patrick Duncan accepted the joint recommendation from the Crown and defence and sentenced Shepherd to 10 years in prison, less 974 days for time served — leaving seven years and 121 days on his sentence.

An agreed statement of facts read in court painted the picture of a disaffected youth who bonded with his best friend, James Gamble, over a shared fascination with death and morbidity, particularly school shootings and mass murders.

However, facts of the case showed that while Shepherd helped plan the attack, he intended to kill himself before the act, rather than to hurt people.

"My last f--k you to the world isn't going to be, like me taking part in any of this, my last f--k you to the world is not stopping it, standing back and let, someone else put Halifax on the map," he said in a goodbye video he recorded two days before he was arrested. 

Shepherd accomplice to main plotters

Shepherd was arrested on Feb. 13, 2015 at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport where he had gone to pick up co-accused Lindsay Kanitha Souvannarath — Gamble's online girlfriend, who flew to Nova Scotia from her home in Illinois to take part in the plot.

Police had received an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers about people posting massacre plans on social media and met the pair at the airport. 

Around the same time, Gamble committed suicide at his parent's home as police closed in. He had originally planned to kill his parents before joining Souvannarath in attacking the mall.

Halifax shooting plot suspects Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath (left) and Randall Steven Shepherd. (Chicago Sun-Times/Facebook)

According to the agreed statement of facts, Souvannarath and Gamble were the main plotters behind the plan to open fire in the food court at the Halifax Shopping Centre. Gamble planned to use his father's shotgun and hunting rifle. When they were unable to obtain more weapons, Shepherd agreed to make Molotov cocktails to increase the number of deaths.

"I will supply the bottles, the cloth, the gas, and I will document the days leading up. But I will die on the 13th," Shepherd wrote in a message to Gamble.

Crown attorney Shauna MacDonald said for sentencing they had to look at terrorism cases to get a sense of how long Shepherd should remain in prison, however the Crown said this is not a terrorism case because there was no political, religious or ideological motivation.

'I have no defence'

Shepherd's defence attorney Roger Burrill called the case "a deeply sad story of youth disaffection and morbidity." 

Shepherd sat through the court proceedings hunched over staring at the table in front of him. When given the chance to speak, he told the court he was sorry for what happened.

"I have no defence. I was a different person," he said.

"I honestly wish that James was here so he could speak for himself. Obviously that's not the case," he said.

​Souvannarath remains in custody. She is scheduled to go to trial to face charges including conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit arson in May.

CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from the courtroom.

With files from Blair Rhodes