Bissonnette judge's 'unusual' sentencing decision likely to be appealed


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.

"We need to remember that sentencing is individual, it takes in a number of factors, and those include the circumstances of the crime, the severity, the impact on the community, but it also has to reference the circumstances and background of the offender", she said.

Several people in the room wept as the judge read a second-by-second account of the shooter's actions on the night of the crime.

Witnesses said Bissonnette stormed the mosque during evening prayers on a Sunday and began firing indiscriminately into the crowd of men, women and children.

Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty past year to six counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder in relation to the shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on 29 January 2017.

Huot chose not to give him consecutive sentences, which would have meant Bissonnette would have been eligible for release in 150 years, - 25 for each man he killed - which would have been the longest prison sentence in Canadian history.

The sentence has yet to be determined by the judge, Superior Court Justice Francois Huot, but Huot said in court that this mass-murder "will forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country".

"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.

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 judge read out segments of his 246-page decision as a packed courtroom sat for six hours. The murder victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

Silver agreed that the Bissonnette sentencing is also likely to be appealed, and she believes that's a good thing.

"You killed six of your compatriots whose only crime was to be different than yourself", Huot said in court.

On the other hand, the judge said, Bissonnette had no previous criminal record, he pleaded guilty and he expressed remorse. "I am not a terrorist, I am not an Islamophobe".

Under Canadian law, Bissonnette could have gone to prison for 150 years or 25 years for each of the six deaths.