MONCTON, N.B. -- Justin Bourque has been sentenced to serve 75 years in prison before he will be eligible to apply for parole for the June 4 shooting rampage that killed three RCMP officers and wounded two others in Moncton.

Judge David Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench in New Brunswick delivered his precedent-setting ruling Friday after a sentencing hearing earlier this week during which Bourque apologized to the families of the Mounties he shot.

"This has been difficult for everyone," Smith said, describing the shootings as "one of the most horrific crime sprees to happen in Canada."

Bourque's sentence is the harshest in Canada since the last executions in 1962.

He pleaded guilty in August to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Bourque, 24, faced a mandatory life sentence, so the only issue for Smith to decide was when he could apply for parole.

The Crown sought the maximum sentence of 75 years under a section of the Criminal Code that was amended in 2011.

The defence argued for parole eligibility to be set at 50 years.

At his sentencing hearing, a videotaped statement Bourque gave to police after his arrest was entered as evidence. In it, Bourque explains that he wanted to encourage people to rise up against the "soldiers" that defend federal institutions and protect the rich from the poor.

He muses about his strict Catholic upbringing, climate change, evolution, social engineering, class warfare, tyrants, something called the "black curtain" and threats posed by the Russians and the Chinese.

"I know this is going to sound pretty messed up, but I felt pretty accomplished," he told police.

An agreed statement of facts previously filed with the court says Bourque's actions were both "planned and deliberate" when he used a Poly Technologies M305, 308-calibre semi-automatic rifle to kill constables Dave Ross, 32, Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, and Douglas Larche, 40. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also injured in the shootings.

A 28-hour manhunt for Bourque left much of Moncton paralyzed until his arrest just after midnight on June 6.

The amended Criminal Code provision that factored into Bourque's sentencing has been used only once before. In September 2013, a judge in Edmonton sentenced an armoured-car guard to life in prison with no chance at parole for 40 years for gunning down four of his colleagues during a robbery in June 2012.

Travis Baumgartner had pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and a charge of attempted murder.

Statement by Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown follows:

I’m Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, the Commanding Officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick. June 4 of this year is a day that will forever be remembered for the heartbreaking loss of three of our members - Constables Doug Larche, Dave Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan. We can never lose sight of the fact that while they were excellent police officers committed to keeping their community safe, they were also exemplary husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. The investigation resulted in one man being guilty of these murders and also the attempted murders of Cst. Eric Dubois and Cst. Darlene Goguen. That individual has now been sentenced for his crimes.

I’ve been asked by reporters for my reaction to that. What can one say? I am glad that the accused accepted responsibility for his horrific actions and pleaded guilty, sparing the family a long emotional trial. But like any crime, you can’t undo the damage inflicted on the victims and in this case, there are many. My heart still goes out to their families, to all who worked alongside them, to the community, and to everyone who has been affected.

While Doug, Dave and Fabrice’s absence will continue to be felt by all of us, we will move on. Months later, the support from the community is strong as citizens stand by us to keep Greater Moncton safe. I can’t think of a greater legacy to honour their memory than seeing that wonderful partnership between you and us continue.

Keeping our communities safe is a collective effort. On behalf of all of us in the RCMP, thank you for all you have done and continue to do to support us.

Victim impact statement from widow Nadine Larche:

Victim Impact Statement