Defence says Quebec City mosque shooter was a troubled youth
Caroline Plante, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, June 18, 2018 9:06AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 18, 2018 6:16PM EDT
QUEBEC -- Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six men in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017, is a fragile narcissist, a man unable to overcome the hardships he suffered in his youth, his lawyer argued Monday during his sentencing hearing.
Charles-Olivier Gosselin asked the judge to consider the "global portrait" of the killer before handing down a sentence.
Bissonnette, 28, is facing the prospect of being given the most severe prison term ever imposed in Canada.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder.
While his first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole before 25 years, Bissonnette can also receive consecutive terms, which means he could be sentenced to up to 150 years in prison.
Gosselin argued his client should instead be eligible for parole in 25 years.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot has said he is not ruling out a sentence longer than 25 years.
But before deciding on Bissonnette's fate, Huot will have to rule on a defence motion arguing consecutive sentences -- a part of the Criminal Code since 2011 -- are unconstitutional and invalid.
Gosselin said cumulative sentences amount to a "death sentence by incarceration."
He did not call any witnesses Monday but presented the judge with numerous documents, including academic studies regarding life expectancies, deaths and suicides for people in detention.
Gosselin asked the judge not to make an example out of a sick man.
He described Bissonnette as man suffering from depression, whose personality was forged through intimidation and bullying during his school years.
Bissonnette was not a racist driven by hatred, Gosselin argued, but an "anxious" youth who needed to drink alcohol in order to disinhibit himself the night of the killings.
Gosselin said his client can be rehabilitated and wants to "work on himself."
Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques has said he would argue for a sentence that reflected the "odious crimes" committed.
He is scheduled to begin his arguments in court Tuesday.
Huot has previously warned he doesn't expect to make a ruling on Bissonnette's fate before September.
The widow of one the victims had told the court how a lighter sentence or the prospect that Bissonnette would be released would amount to a second death for the victims of the attack.
Quebec's attorney general has stated that a cumulative sentence for multiple murders is "constitutionally valid."
In a 54-page document filed last week in Quebec Superior Court, the Crown invited Huot to reject the constitutional challenge initiated by Bissonnette's lawyers.