A white supremacist who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand’s deadliest shooting has been sentenced to life without parole.
It’s the longest prison term handed out in New Zealand’s legal history, and a penalty never before used in the country.
Justice Cameron Mander delivered Tarrant’s fate after a marathon four-day-hearing that has seen some 91 victims face the killer in court telling, him of the physical, emotional and mental scars his crimes have left on their lives.
“You showed no mercy. It was brutal and beyond callous – your actions were inhumane,” Justice Mander told him.
He went on: “As far as I am able to gauge you are empty of any empathy to your victims.
“You have said you were in a poisoned emotional state at the time, and terribly unhappy. You felt ostracised by society and wanted to damage society as revenge.”
Tarrant, who represented himself at the hearing chose not to address the court, but instructed standby lawyer Pip Hall to speak on his behalf.
“Mr Tarrant does not oppose the application he should be sentenced to life in prison without parole,” Mr Hall said.
The judge turned to Brenton Tarrant asking him if he wanted to speak. “No. Thank you,” Tarrant replied quietly.
Crown Lawyer Mark Zarifeh had argued life without parole was the only appropriate sentence. “The enormity of the offending cannot be compared.
“The offender planned and prepared his attacks, he has caused permanent and immeasurable harm. The offender is clearly New Zealand’s worst murderer.”
Mr Zarifeh told the court that “Tarrant appeared to show some remorse describing his own offending to a psychiatrist as abhorrent”.
But he added: “Tarrant could not control his impulse to offend, despite knowing on some level it was wrong.”
The 29-year-old Australian initially denied all charges against him but later admitted to 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the 2019 shooting rampage at two Christchurch mosques which he livestreamed on Facebook.
Tarrant was largely emotionless during the last three days in court as more than 90 victims gave harrowing accounts of the attack and its traumatic impact on their lives.
The grieving victims rejected Tarrant’s white supremacist world view and urged the court to ensure he is never freed.
Aden Diriye’s young son was shot dead in the massacre and his statement was read by his other son, Abdiramen Ibrahim.
In it he said: “This terrorist killed my beloved three-year-old son, and to me it is as though you have killed the whole of New Zealand.”
Ahad Nabi lost his elderly father, Haji Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, and also spoke directly to Tarrant, saying: “You hurt my father, but you never took him away from me.
“While you are in prison you will come to the reality that you are now in hell and only the fire awaits you.
“Your father was a garbage man, you became trash of society, he is ashamed of your identity. You deserved to be buried in a landfill.
Prosecutors had said Tarrant wanted to instil fear in those he described as invaders and that he carefully planned the attacks to cause maximum carnage.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was relieved “to know that person will never see the light of day”.
“The trauma of 15 March is not easily healed but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence,” she said.
The PM added: “I want to acknowledge the strength of our Muslim community who shared their words in court over the past few days. You relived the horrific events of 15 March to chronicle what happened that day and the pain it has left behind.
“Nothing will take the pain away but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process, and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow.”