Witness tells Richard Bain to ‘burn in hell’ during sentencing hearing
A stagehand who was standing next to his friend when the man was shot and killed outside a Parti Québécois election night rally in 2012 told a court today how that moment sent his life into a downward spiral.
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Denis Blanchette, a 48-year-old Montreal father, died and another stagehand was seriously injured when a masked Richard Henry Bain, 66, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle.
On Friday, Bain’s sentencing hearing got underway in Quebec Superior Court at the Montreal courthouse.
It started off with victim impact statements from four stagehands who witnessed the deadly shooting outside Montreal’s downtown Metropolis concert hall.
Bain, who is currently being held at Montreal’s Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre, was found guilty of second-degree murder last month.
He was also found guilty of three counts of attempted murder — one count for stagehand Dave Courage, who was seriously injured, one count for provincial police officer Sgt. Stéphane Champagne, and one count for a group of a dozen stagehands who were standing nearby.
He could have to wait anywhere between 10 and 25 years before he’s eligible to apply for parole.
Today’s hearing will help Justice Guy Cournoyer decide how early Bain can apply for parole.
Stagehand recalls shooting
Crown prosecutor Dennis Galiatsatos is asking that Bain receive the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole.
Before Galiatsatos began his arguments to the court, four stagehands and the sister of the murder victim delivered victim impact statements.
Stagehand Jonathan Dubé struggled through his prepared statement, pausing several times to take a deep breath and gather himself.
At one point, he addressed Bain directly and said: “You’re going to burn in hell.”
He told the court that he’d struggled with substance abuse in the past, but by the time of the attack he was “practically rehabilitated.”
He’d managed to get a job as a stagehand, and friend Denis Blanchette had become like a brother to him, showing him the ropes of the trade.
After Blanchette was murdered just steps away from him, Dubé said he returned to drugs, something he’d swore never to do again.
“My pain was so great. My despair so black. The wound so deep,” he told the court.
The court also heard from another stagehand, Gael Ghiringhelli.
He said since the attack he’s suffered from depression, nightmares and insomnia.
‘If there was a single miracle in this event, it’s that the gun jammed.’ – Gael Ghiringhelli, stagehand
“Imagine what it means to survive such an event, because we’re talking about survival here,” he told the court.
He said it’s been difficult, but every time his mind goes to dark places, he remembers that he was spared the night of the shooting.
“If there was a single miracle in this event, it’s that the gun jammed,” he said.
Sister of murder victim speaks
Blanchette’s sister Diane was the final witness to address the court.
She turned to face Bain, who maintained a neutral expression, and spoke to him on her brother’s behalf, as if she was delivering his words.
“You took away my right to life, my right to be a father,” she said.
Blanchette’s daughter was four years old when he was killed.
Defence seeks minimum sentence
Bain’s lawyer will argue for the minimum sentence, proposing that Bain be allowed to apply for parole after 10 years in prison.
Alan Guttman is expected to point out that National Assembly shooter Denis Lortie got the minimum for his second-degree murder conviction, arguing that sets a precedent.
Once the sentencing hearing wraps up, it could take the judge several weeks to hand down his decision.
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