MONTREAL — Quebec's 2012 election-night shooter was motivated by politics, fuelled by hatred towards separatists and should spend at least 20 years behind bars before parole eligibility, a judge ruled Friday.
Richard Henry Bain was found guilty of second-degree murder in August, convicted by a jury in the killing of lighting technician Denis Blanchette outside the Metropolis nightclub as then premier-designate Pauline Marois was inside delivering a victory speech to Parti Quebecois faithful.
He was also found guilty of three counts of attempted murder.
Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer said Friday the political nature of the offences justified the lengthy period of time before parole eligibility.
"In an uncharacteristic display of planned murderous violence and hatred for those he described as separatists, Mr. Richard Henry Bain attempted to change the results of the election and the course of history," Cournoyer said.
Bain is also prohibited from owning firearms for life.
Second-degree murder carries a sentence of life imprisonment, but the parole eligibility can range between 10 and 25 years.
The defence had suggested the minimum for Bain, 66, while the Crown had sought the maximum 25 years.
During the trial, Bain's lawyer had argued his client was mentally ill when he fired a single shot in the direction of the technicians working outside the Metropolis on election night.
But the Crown argued that Bain, who shouted "The English are waking up'' as he was arrested in a blue bathrobe, was of sound mind and motivated by politics.
In his decision, Cournoyer largely appeared to side with the Crown, saying there were "clear elements of forethought and planning" to Bain's actions that made his actions factually closer to first-degree murder than to manslaughter.
He pointed out it was only by "a twist of fate" that Bain's rifle jammed after one shot, which prevented him from killing more people.
Cournoyer said Bain's mental condition did not warrant a lesser sentence, although he did note the 66-year-old had no previous history of violence and had expressed remorse for his actions.
Crown prosecutor Dennis Galiatsatos said he was satisfied and hoped the victims would be too.
"I think it was particularly appropriate that the judge began his judgment by referring to democracy and how fragile and important it is," he said outside the courtroom.
One of Bain's victims expressed satisfaction with the result, saying he believed "everyone did their job" during the case.
Dave Courage, who was seriously wounded by the same bullet that killed Blanchette, said he was continuing to move on from what happened.
"It's been four years, and I've been moving forward ever since. This is just another stepping stone in my life," he said.
Bain's lawyer Alan Guttman said he was disappointed with the ruling, which he likened to "almost a death sentence," given his client's age.
Guttman, who had presented a defence of non-criminal responsibility during the trial, said he felt his client's mental state should have factored more strongly into the judge's decision.
He said there is a "very good possibility" that he will appeal.