Christchurch mosque attack: Sentencing of Brenton Tarrant delayed due to COVID-19

Sentencing for the man who committed the Christchurch mosque attacks has been delayed due to COVID-19.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant pleaded guilty to killing 51 people and injuring another 49 at two central Christchurch mosques last year.

While he pleaded not guilty to all charges last year, he changed his plea to guilty when he appeared in the Christchurch High Court via audio-visual link earlier this year.

In a minute released on Thursday, Justice Cameron Mander said global pandemic and border controls continued to impact the ability for those overseas to enter New Zealand. 

Justice Mander said those restrictions could prevent victims and family members who are currently overseas from being present.

"Inquiries are presently being undertaken to ascertain each individual's situation and that of their families who are affected in this way," Justice Mander said. 

He said once those positions have been confirmed, a decision would be made on when sentencing can proceed.

Justice Mander said it would take into account the need to bring "finality and closure" to the victims.

"For these reasons, it has been necessary to delay the setting of a sentencing date until the Court has access to more complete information.

"The defendant has been further remanded to a nominal date of July 13, 2020 pending the completion of the current inquiries."

After Tarrant pleaded guilty in March, there was relief in the Muslim community.

"It is something that the victims and the families don't have to go through a lengthy court trial," said Feroze Ditta, who was shot three times in the leg during the attack. "We can move on."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the guilty pleas will "provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15".

Mike Bush, who was Police Commissioner at the time, also acknowledged the guilty pleas.

"I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever," he said in March.