National News

Man accused in Mountie deaths in court

Justin Bourque is shown in this artist
Justin Bourque is shown in this artist's sketch during his court appearance in Moncton Friday, June 6, 2014. Bourque is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. He is facing three first-degree murder charges and two counts of attempted murder and has not entered pleas on the charges. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carol Taylor
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By Melanie Patten, The Canadian Press

MONCTON, N.B. - A young man charged with fatally shooting three RCMP officers and wounding two others in Moncton, N.B., last month will return to court July 31 after undergoing a psychiatric assessment.

Justin Bourque, 24, is facing three first-degree murder charges and two counts of attempted murder. He has not entered pleas on the charges.

Judge Irwin Lambert said he received from the defence on Thursday an affidavit signed by Victor Bourque, the accused's father, outlining why he believed a psychiatric assessment was justified.

Bourque did not speak during his brief appearance Thursday in Moncton provincial court, but his lawyer, David Lutz, said he was making the request for a psychiatric assessment after speaking to his client's father.

"I have met extensively with the father and to a lesser degree with the mother," said Lutz. "I'm aware of the circumstances that led up to this horrific incident and I feel based upon my experience that this is an appropriate case (for an assessment), based on the content of the affidavit."

Lutz did not elaborate on his remarks and would not comment outside court.

The Crown agreed to the defence request to send Bourque for a psychiatric assessment, which will be conducted at the Shepody Healing Centre in Dorchester, N.B.

Bourque, who wore a grey T-shirt that hung off his slight frame, glanced into the public gallery a couple of times where members of his family sat while he was in court.

Constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche were gunned down after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood on June 4. Two other RCMP officers — constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen — were wounded and later released from hospital.

The shootings and ensuing manhunt brought the city to a standstill until an arrest was made about 30 hours later.

Lutz, a senior New Brunswick lawyer, recently confirmed that he has been retained to represent Bourque.

The 71-year-old lawyer from Hampton, N.B., has practised law in New Brunswick since 1977, handling 35 murder trials during that time.

Members of Bourque's family declined to speak after Thursday's hearing.

Outside court, a friend of the Bourques said she came to support the family.

"I think I wanted more answers which might come along after this evaluation," said Mireille Thibeault, who has family living on the same street as the Bourques in Moncton. "Like everyone else, just to know what triggered this to happen. It's a very sad, sad thing to happen."

She said the family is having a difficult time.

"It's extremely hard on them, it's a lot to deal with," Thibeault added. "It changes your life, it changes the whole course of how you're living your life, it changes in an instant. It's tough."

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