The Australian man who murdered 51 people of faith in the Christchurch mosques attack will today be told he will live out his days in a jail cell.
The question seems to be whether he will become the first in New Zealand’s history to be denied any chance of parole; effectively handed a sentence for the term of his natural life.
Brenton Tarrant, the Grafton-raised 29-year-old, will be sentenced on Thursday after a four-day sentencing hearing in the New Zealand’s High Court.
The gravity of his crimes – 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one terrorism charge – has all but confirmed he will be given life by Justice Cameron Mander.
“A judge must apply the maximum penalty … if the crime falls within the most serious crimes that can be committed unless the circumstances of the offender dictate otherwise,” prominent Queen’s Counsel Nigel Hampton told TVNZ.
“Maximum imprisonment without right to apply for parole (has) never been imposed in New Zealand.
“In his discretion, (Justice Mander) can say ‘sorry, but no, you’re serving life imprisonment without the right to apply for parole’.”
Tarrant has opted to represent himself at the sentencing, which afforded him an opportunity to present to the court on Thursday.
Instead, he has signalled he will yield his time to stand-by counsel Philip Hall, who will make very brief remarks.
That comes as a relief to many who study right-wing extremism, worried Tarrant would use his platform for spew hate speech.
Tarrant’s decision has also been welcomed by victims.
Over the last three days, 91 people have presented statements of their suffering and anger in the court, just metres away from the terrorist.
Many more have given written statements to Justice Mander.
Victims have told AAP they have found power and strength in giving their statements, but equally some are tired after an emotionally exhausting week.
“He doesn’t have the guts (to speak) after being told over and over again what kind of man he is,” one told AAP.
“He is defeated. He doesn’t want to see eye-to-eye his victims any more. Hate has been silenced.”
Another said of Tarrant’s withdrawal, “we would like to have the last word and thanks to him we will”.
“The community is again spared from him using it as a platform to spout inflammatory remarks,” she said.
“He has the right to say whatever but that won’t change anything. He did not even bother to take the opportunity to show remorse.
“Not that we need it.”