Christchurch sentencing shows how justice 'should be done' - expert

Warning: This article discusses the Christchurch mosque attack.

The sentencing of the Christchurch shooter is being commended as "extraordinary" by a law expert.

Mai Chen, a New Zealand constitutional and administrative law expert, told Newshub the sentence was "groundbreaking".

Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for murdering 51 people in the March 15 terror attacks. He is the first person in New Zealand history to receive the sentence. 

Tarrant opened fire at Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque on March 15, 2019, before driving to Linwood Mosque where he opened fire again.

A year after the attacks which devastated the Muslim community and the world, Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and committing a terrorist act. He was sentenced in the Christchurch HIgh Court on Thursday. 

Chen said the punishment fits the crime.

"It's the first time life without parole has been delivered, but if there was ever a time it was justified, it is this case," she told Newshub on Friday. 

"This is a hate crime, a mass killing, a terrorist attack. It's certainly not a disproportionate sentence."

She shared her admiration for the judge presiding over the trial, Justice Cameron Mander.

"Justice Mander handled this case with a very high and appreciated level of cultural capability," she said.

"This case shows how justice should be done and how justice can be done."

Chen said the scale of the offending was massive, with more than 90 victims giving statements. Justice Mander referenced each victim's circumstances individually as he handed down his sentence - a move Chen said showed "extraordinary" empathy.

"The amount of empathy the judge had will really result in the judgement providing as much healing and as much closure as is possible from the court process."

But she knows the court process won't heal the harm Tarrant caused.

"There's no real vindication for the victims - they live with their loss every day."