A Quebec judge's "unusual" decision to modify the Criminal Code as he sentenced six-time murderer Alexandre Bissonnette to a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 40 years highlights the ongoing legal debate over consecutive life sentences in Canada, according to legal experts.
Alexandre Bissonnette is escorted to a van in Quebec City after appearing in court for the deadly shooting at a mosque.
He walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre during evening prayers on January 29, 2017 and opened fire.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty previous year to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder for the attack, one of Canada's rare mass shootings.
But he rejected the Crown's request for six consecutive life sentences, which would have prevented Bissonnette from seeking parole for 150 years and guaranteed that he end his life behind bars.
Nonetheless, the judge handed down a sentence of 40 years without parole because he said abiding by the Harper-era law - by sentencing him to 50 years - would violate Bissonnette's constitutional rights, MacKinnon later reported.
"Charter challenges to the 2011 provisions had previously been denied on the basis that the judge was not forced to increase parole ineligibility for multiple murders", he wrote in an email.
If this is granted, Bissonnette will be able to apply for parole, which means he could be released from prison by the time he turns 54-years-old.
As the 246-page verdict was read over a six-hour period, Bissonnette sat quietly in the packed courtroom, gazing at his feet while his parents and several friends and family of the victims wiped tears from their eyes.
"QUOTE " httSix men - Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry and Azzedine Soufiane - were killed and 19 others were wounded in the shooting, including five critically.
Silver agreed that the Bissonnette sentencing is also likely to be appealed, and she believes that's a good thing.
Shortly after his arrest, Bissonnette told police that the attack was motivated by immigration in Canada. Six people were killed and 19 others were injured. He referred to numerous attacks in Europe as well as the 2014 shooting in Ottawa outside Parliament and said he "lost it" after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees.
He argued a 150-year term would be the equivalent of a death sentence.
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