Thought of attending parole hearing ‘heartbreaking’ says slain RCMP officer’s wife

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The wife of one of the New Brunswick RCMP officers murdered in 2014 says she is angry and discouraged after an Appeal Court reduced convicted killer Justin Bourque’s parole eligibility.

Nadine Larche’s husband, Const. Douglas Larche, was killed in the line of duty in Moncton, N.B., on June 4, 2014, along with two of his colleagues.

On Thursday, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal said it was “duty-bound” to cut Bourque’s parole ineligibility period from the record-setting 75-year sentence to 25 years following a Supreme Court of Canada decision last year.

The Supreme Court ruling struck down a 2011 law that made it possible for judges to extend parole ineligibility periods beyond 25 years for people convicted of multiple murders.

With the reduction in his sentence, Bourque — who was 24 at the time of the murders — should be able to apply for parole when he is 49 instead of 99.

“My girls were nine, eight and four when their father was murdered,” Larche said in an interview via texts with The Canadian Press.

“The thought of us — of them — having to submit their own victim impact statement and attending parole hearings is simply heartbreaking.”

While she knew the decision was coming, she said it didn’t help with the hurt, pain and trauma that resurfaced.

“It breaks my heart that we are all going to have to revisit this yet again in 2039 and that my three children will also have to go through parole hearings.”

Bourque used a semi-automatic rifle to kill constables Dave Ross, 32; Fabrice Gevaudan, 45; and Larche, 40.

In a Feb. 13 victim impact statement by Angela Gevaudan, Gevaudan’s widow, said she feels “hurt and abandoned as a victim in our criminal justice system.”

She said her daughter “looks over her shoulder” since being told about the Supreme Court decision.

“Even if she hasn’t been able to put it into words, I know in my mom’s heart that she fears for her own safety,” she said in the statement.

“Of all my symptoms, my struggles, what is most difficult is seeing how it impacts her. It breaks my heart.”

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal decision Thursday noted the loss of police officers at the hands of a murdering gunman is a senseless tragedy resulting in the untimely passing of people who put their lives on the line to serve and protect their community.

It leaves families, friends and colleagues, and indeed, the community as a whole, in long-lasting profound grief, the court added.

“Mr. Bourque committed horrendous crimes that damaged the very fabric of our society,” it said.

“Fuelled by hatred for authority, he took the lives of three innocent victims and injured two more. He not only left families devastated, but also left the local community and the law enforcement communities in a state of pain and anguish.”

Larche echoed those sentiments.

Bourque ripped apart not just her home and heart, she said, but affected an entire community.

“And beyond,” she said.

Larche said the one reassurance she, her family and the community had was that he would be eligible for parole in 75 years.

“That reassurance is gone now with this decision,” she said.

“Granted, it’s only an eligibility to parole, it is not a guarantee. And I hope and trust that the Parole Board will consider all the factors and not grant him parole. Yet, we will still have to suffer through the parole hearing process,” she said.

In an open letter, Larche urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to revisit parole ineligibility periods and sentencing for people who have committed multiple murders such as Bourque’s case.

Sentencing needs to reflect the offence in order to adequately protect society, and the Appeal Court’s decision undermines those principles, she said.

“How can such a violent and wilfully committed crime be punished with such a sentence?” she wrote. “It does not seem just or fair. This does little to denounce and deter. This is not enough to acknowledge the harm he has done.”

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