MONCTON, N.B. — The wife of the last Mountie killed during a 2014 shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., sent a clear message to the judge sentencing the RCMP on Labour Code violations Thursday: Her husband would still be alive if the force had better equipped its officers.
In a victim impact statement, Nadine Larche said the tragic outcome of the events of June 4, 2014, could have been dramatically different.
"I firmly believe that my husband, and the father of our three children, would still be alive today had he and his colleagues had the proper 'tools' to fight back better that fateful day," she wrote.
Crown prosecutor Paul Adams asked the judge for the maximum penalty of $1 million. He said such a penalty would amount to "a clear declaration of disapproval" of RCMP conduct that left its officers outgunned.
Constables Doug Larche, Fabrice Gevaudan and Dave Ross were killed, while constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured when gunman Justin Bourque went hunting police officers in a Moncton neighbourhood.
Bourque had targeted police officers in the hopes of sparking an anti-government rebellion.
In September, Judge Leslie Jackson said RCMP officers were "ill-prepared" to confront the gunman, as he convicted the national police force of failing to provide its members with adequate use-of-force equipment and user training.
The C8 carbine rifle was a central focus of the trial. The high-powered weapons were not available to general duty officers at the time of the Moncton shootings, and numerous witnesses said they could have made a difference.
Carbine rifles were approved for use in 2011, but their rollout was delayed on several occasions.
Nadine Larche wrote a poem after her husband's death and included the poem in her victim impact statement. In part, it reads: "No more wedding anniversaries to celebrate. No more baking Daddy's birthday cake. No retirement party to attend. No more going on dates with my best friend."
Also Thursday, an audio recording was played of a victim impact statement from Angela Gevaudan, whose husband Fabrice was killed.
She said that as a dispatcher with the Moncton-area Codiac detachment, she was aware of safety concerns for officers prior to the June 2014 shooting.
"I feel there was not an appropriate process to address those concerns," she said, adding there needs to be an independent process to monitor and address safety concerns.
She said that knowing there were safety concerns and not being able to have them addressed only increased her mental suffering and she now suffers from PTSD.
None of the family members were in court Thursday. Goguen — one of the constables wounded by Bourque — sat quietly in the front row of the courtroom but left without speaking to anyone.
Jackson will deliver his sentence on Jan. 26, 2018.
Defence lawyer Mark Ertel suggested a penalty of $500,000, much of it as donations to groups suggested by the Crown.
Adams asked that a $1-million penalty include a $100,000 fine to the court, $500,000 to the Universite de Moncton for memorial scholarships, $150,000 to educational trust funds for the children of the deceased officers, as well as other donations.
And he asked that the RCMP be ordered to make a public statement on what measures have been taken since the Moncton tragedy. Adams told Jackson that if the RCMP officers had the proper training and equipment, it would have been "a game-changer."
"They (the force) was responsible to prepare the officers to deal with this situation, which they failed to do," he said.
Ertel said the introduction of carbine rifles "could" have made a difference, but the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they "would" have made a difference.
Bourque pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.
"Obviously it is an incredibly difficult time for the members involved, their family and all our employees in the community," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Larry Tremblay said outside court.
"At the same time I am incredibly proud of how all our employees have conducted themselves over the last 3 1/2 years. We will see the sentencing at the end of January."