POLITICS

Justin Bourque targeted Mounties, wanted to start rebellion, court told

10/27/2014 08:57 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
MONCTON, N.B. - Justin Bourque told police the main reason he fatally shot three Mounties and wounded two others was that he was attempting to start a rebellion against an oppressive, corrupt government that he insisted was squelching the freedom of most Canadians and serving only the rich, his sentencing hearing heard Monday.

Crown lawyer Cameron Gunn began laying out his case that Bourque, 24, should have his parole ineligibility set at 75 years while serving a life sentence for three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

"He targeted them not because of any animosity to them specifically, not for lust or greed or any of the normal things you might see in a murder sentencing," Gunn told the Court of Queen's Bench.

"He targeted them specifically because of who they were, what they did, the badge they carried, the flash on their shoulders, the uniform they wore."

Later in the day, the Crown showed a three-hour video recorded at the RCMP detachment in Sackville, N.B., where Bourque admits soon after his arrest on June 6 that he planned to kill as many police officers as he could.

"I'm trying to understand the reasons why," an investigator says to Bourque at one point.

Bourque, slouching in a chair and appearing relaxed, replies with cool indifference, saying he wanted to encourage people to rise up against the "soldiers" that defend federal institutions and protect the rich from the poor.

"It was hook-and-mouth syndrome," he says flatly through his long, shaggy hair. "You really don't get freedom of speech in this country."

Bourque's reference to hook-and-mouth syndrome echoes the title of a disturbing song by heavy metal band Megadeth he posted on his Facebook page prior to the shootings, Gunn said.

From there, Bourque rambles on about threats posed by the Russians and the Chinese, social engineering, bullying, tyrants, social decline, climate change, his strict Catholic upbringing and something called the "black curtain."

"There's a big class war, big time," he says.

Bourque also said he was dissatisfied with his job at a distribution warehouse, having rejected the idea of going back to school because of mounting debts.

He said his original plan was to set fire to several Moncton gas stations to harm the oil industry, but he shelved that idea because of problems with his bicycle.

Describing how he felt after the shootings, Bourque tells the investigator, "I know this is going to sound pretty messed up, but I felt pretty accomplished."

As the video played, Bourque watched the screen intently, barely moving. His hair is now cut short and he has a closely cropped beard that stands in contrast to his unkempt appearance when he was arrested.

An agreed statement of facts previously filed with the court says Bourque's actions were both "planned and deliberate" when he used a Poly Technologies M305, 308-calibre semi-automatic rifle to kill constables Dave Ross, 32, Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, and Douglas Larche, 40. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also wounded.

Gunn said that late on June 4, Bourque was wearing camouflage and carrying the rifle and a shotgun as he left his rented home in Moncton's north end, calmly walking along a road in his trailer park, passing several neighbours along the way.

"It appeared he was on a mission," Gunn said.

The first of multiple 911 calls came in at 7:18 p.m.

"There's a guy walking up the road with a gun at his side," a caller to police says in a recording played in court. "He walked right by us. ... He's all dressed army-wise."

Police radio transmissions and surveillance video entered as evidence gave a gripping account of how the RCMP officers were gunned down.

At 7:46 p.m., the first shots "reported over the air" were fired, Gunn said. Five seconds later, Gevaudan is heard over a police transmission saying, "He's shooting at me! He's shooting at me!"

Gevaudan had two gunshot wounds in his torso. He was dragged by officers into a nearby ditch where they tried CPR but he died, Gunn said.

Bourque then fired four to seven shots into the windshield of a police sport utility vehicle that Ross was in. Ross fired two shots to defend himself but was later seen by a resident slumped in the vehicle.

Larche, in plain clothes and wearing body armour, responded at 8:04 p.m. At one point he exchanged gunfire with Bourque who was behind some trees, court heard.

"Witnesses were banging on their windows, trying to warn constable Larche," Gunn said, adding that witnesses later saw Larche grab his neck and slump behind his car as he was shot.

A resident saw Bourque walk past her and say, "Don't worry, I'm not out to kill civilians. I'm after government officials," Gunn said.

A subsequent manhunt for Bourque lasted nearly 30 hours until his arrest just after midnight on June 6.

Victim impact statements from the families of the three slain officers were read into the court record Monday.

Ross's wife Rachael, who gave birth to a son weeks after her husband's death, spoke of the struggles of raising her two young sons without him.

"He was ripped away from us," she says in a recording played in court. "Every day I just wish he would come home. Our lives are shattered."

A single conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence and a ban on applying for parole for 25 years. But Gunn is arguing the 25-year parole ineligibility period for each murder conviction should be imposed consecutively, which means Bourque wouldn't be allowed to apply for parole until he was 99 years old.

If granted, that would be the harshest sentence in Canada since the last executions in 1962.

"The question you will have to answer at the end of this is, 'What is the value of a human life?' " Gunn said before a packed courtroom.

A 2011 amendment to the Criminal Code allows judges to extend parole ineligibility in the case of multiple murders.

The law has been used only once since it was changed. In September 2013, a judge in Edmonton sentenced an armoured-car guard to life in prison with no chance at parole for 40 years for gunning down four of his colleagues during a robbery in June 2012.

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