Quebec City mosque killer sentenced to life, no parole for 40 years

Alexandre Bissonnette had pleaded to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder

The man who shot dead six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in 2017 has been sentenced to serve 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot called Alexandre Bissonnette’s attack gratuitous and insidious as he handed down the sentence Friday.

The judge told Bissonnette, wearing a blue blazer and white shirt, to leave the prisoners’ box and stand in front of him as he read his decision. Huot began by saying the day of the murders “will forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country.”

Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last March to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre during evening prayers on Jan. 29, 2017 and opened fire. The murder victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

Several people in the Quebec City courtroom wept as the judge read a detailed account of the shooter’s actions that night. Two women left the room in tears as Huot described how Bissonnette approached Soufiane as he lay on the ground, already wounded, and fired another bullet into his head.

The judge said that in the years leading up to the shooting Bissonnette increasingly drank alcohol and experienced anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Huot noted that witnesses at his sentencing hearing testified that he had been severely bullied in school, had a documented history of mental health problems. He also lacked empathy, the judge said, quoting Bissonnette’s statement after the shootings: “I regret not having killed more people.”

First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole before 25 years. The Crown had recommended that Bissonnette serve six consecutive sentences totalling 150 years, while the defence argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

The Criminal Code was amended in 2011 to allow a judge to impose consecutive sentences in cases of multiple murder, but it was clear as Huot spent nearly six hours reading the 246-page decision that he was wrestling with the constitutionality of the law.

Huot concluded a sentence of 50 years or more would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In the end he sentenced Bissonnette to concurrent life sentences for five murders, and on the sixth added 15 years to bring the total to 40.

The longest prison sentence in Canada to date is 75 years without parole, which has been given to at least five triple killers since the law was changed to allow consecutive sentences.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House burns in Harewood, three people displaced

Dog unaccounted for after house fire Sunday evening

Man dies in ATV accident south of Nanaimo

Incident happened on backroad Friday night in Nanaimo Lakes area

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No need to wait to enforce new speed limit in the north end

If safety is the goal, why is there a ‘grace period’ for motorists to adjust, asks letter writer

COVID-19: Uptick in calls to Haven Society crisis line as restrictions ease

Organization reminds people of their range of services

Nanaimo RCMP detachment resumes limited front counter service

Detachment front counter staff now processing police information checks

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read