Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

Christchurch mosque shooter should consider 'beauty of diversity' in prison, says victim's daughter

Linda Armstrong's daughter sobbed as she addressed the court on the second day of the sentencing hearing

Kyron Gosse, nephew of mosque shooting victim Linda Armstrong, gestures as he makes his victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing at the Christchurch High Court. AP
Kyron Gosse, nephew of mosque shooting victim Linda Armstrong, gestures as he makes his victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing at the Christchurch High Court. AP

The daughter of a woman killed in the New Zealand mosque shootings challenged the white supremacist responsible at his sentencing hearing to use his life in prison to consider the beauty of the diversity and freedom he sought to destroy.

The daughter of Linda Armstrong sobbed as she addressed the court in Christchurch on Tuesday, the second day of the sentencing hearing.

"You robbed me of my mother, of her love and strength. Likely you will also never again feel the love and warmth of your mother's hug either. While I have pity for your mum, I have no emotion for you. You are nothing," said Angela Armstrong.

"While he will remain trapped in a cage my mum is free. I therefore challenge [him] to use his remaining lifetime to consider the beauty and life to be found in diversity and freedom that he sought to distort and destroy."

The 29-year-old Australian is scheduled to be sentenced this week after pleading guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the 2019 shooting rampage in the city of Christchurch which he live-streamed on Facebook.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge can impose a life term without parole, a sentence that has never been used in New Zealand.

The second day of sentencing hearing is dedicated to allowing survivors and family members of victims to address the court, in person and by video.

The gunman sat in grey prison clothes cornered by guards as Ms Armstrong looked at him and described the "ripple effects" of the murder of her 65-year-old mother on her family.

Kyron Gosse, nephew of Linda Armstrong, said the shooter had come to New Zealand as a guest, and used that privilege to destroy a family that had lived here for seven generations.

"Filled with his own racist agenda this coward hid behind his big powerful guns and shot little old Linda from afar," said Mr Gosse.

He "stole our nation's innocence", said Mr Gosse. New Zealand had been relatively free from major gun violence until the country's worst mass shooting.

On Monday, prosecutors told the court that the gunman had carefully planned the attacks to cause maximum carnage by accumulating high-powered firearms and ammunition, training at rifle clubs and studying mosque layouts.

While most of the victims were at Al Noor mosque, he killed seven people at the Linwood mosque, including Linda Armstrong, before being detained en route to a third.

Representing himself, the gunman will be allowed to speak at some point during the hearing, although Justice Cameron Mander has powers to ensure the High Court is not used as a platform for extremist ideology.

Live reporting from the courtroom was banned, and other restrictions were put in place on what the media could report.

Updated: August 26, 2020 08:44 PM

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