Mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant faces an “unprecedented” sentence that bars him from ever applying for release, but could yet dodge terror charges, legal experts told AFP Monday.
The 28-year-old Australian has been charged with one initial count of murder over the mass shootings that killed 50 people in the southern city of Christchurch and faces life in prison.
In New Zealand, being found guilty of murder usually comes with a minimum of 10 years in jail before possible parole.
But legal experts said Tarrant’s crimes were so extreme they could warrant the heaviest sentence imposed by a judge in the South Pacific nation since the abolition of the death penalty in 1961.
“He may be sentenced to imprisonment without parole. There is a very significant possibility,” criminal lawyer Simon Cullen told AFP, adding that such a sentence would be “unprecedented”.
“This would seem to be… the type of situation that may well attract consideration of that type of sentence.”
The longest-ever murder sentence imposed in New Zealand was in 2001 when a judge sentenced William Bell to life imprisonment with a 30-year minimum term for a triple murder.
While 50 people were killed in the rampage, police have so far charged Tarrant with one count of murder.