GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS DETAILS WHICH READERS MIGHT FIND UPSETTING
Mosque attack victims lined up to confront the mass killer in court today with mounting anger, calling him a cowardly rat who deserved the death penalty.
Survivors, victims and family members have become increasingly outraged at the March 15, 2019 terrorist Brenton Tarrant's apparent lack of remorse during his sentencing at the High Court in Christchurch.
However, the gunman appeared to react to some strong words directed towards him in the dock, nodding and smiling at times, even at calls for capital punishment. He even sniggered when told he would have plenty of time behind bars.
Zuhair Darwish, whose brother Kamel Darwish died at the Al Noor Mosque, went off-script to address Tarrant directly today.
"You will pay for what you did - in this life and another," Zuhair said.
"You act like a coward, and you are a coward. You live like a rat and you are going to die alone."
As he listened and watched Zuhair, Tarrant nodded as if agreeing.
"The fair punishment for him would be the death penalty," said Zuhair.
But Farisha Razak who lost her father Ashraf Ali, shot dead while on holiday in Christchurch, was glad did not have the death penalty.
Killing Tarrant would be "too easy", she said.
"You don't deserve anything easy, you deserve to suffer," said Razak.
"We Muslims are not bad people – get it through your thick head.
"You are not a nice person."
The 29-year-old Australian national initially pleaded not guilty to his offending but later admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one of engaging in a terrorist act laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
He is being sentenced this week at the High Court at Christchurch before Justice Cameron Mander. He will be sentenced to life in prison.
Alta Sacra, a 35-year-old American and Muslim convert, said her life has never been the same since 1.59pm on March 15 last year – when her phone rang.
It was her husband phoning from inside Linwood Mosque just moments after the massacre.
He wasn't speaking but in the background she could hear crying, screaming, moaning and praying in a mix of languages that will haunt her forever.
She couldn't conceive what was happening and begged him to say something, even one word.
"Chaos," he told her. "Chaos. I'm hit, I'm down."
And then the line went dead.
She would later find out that he was wounded but alive. He survived.
English-born Nathan Smith married a woman from Palestine, converting to become a Muslim nine years ago.
"It was the best decision I've ever made – the best decision," he told Tarrant directly this afternoon.
He was praying at Al Noor Mosque the day Tarrant killed men, women and children.
"You took them away in a cowardly way," Smith said.
"After you left I was surrounded by the dying, the injured and the dead.
"I held a 3-year-old boy in my arms praying he was still alive – but he was not.
"You took him away. He was three."
Smith was disgusted by Tarrant's actions.
"You killed in my name," he said.
"I am white. Muslim and proud. All you have done is cause great shame for Europeans all around the world."
Since the shootings, Smith says he has not slept well and no longer trusts people.
At times he thinks about the gunman's parents, who he described as victims too for having lost a son.
"But you had a choice," Smith said. "My brothers and sisters didn't."
Smith then addressed Tarrant, saying, "When you get a free minute, which you'll have plenty of…" and was interrupted by the gunman laughing.
"Funny aye," said Smith.
"Maybe you should try to read the Koran, it's beautiful. I have nothing else to say to you, but you will be judged. You will be judged."
Hazem Mohammed claimed that he met Tarrant two weeks before the massacre.
He claimed he came inside Al Noor Mosque and had sat beside him.
"He was inside the mosque two weeks before the attack," said Mohammed.
Police have in the past said Tarrant never went inside the mosque before the attacks.
The Crown's summary of facts - the official narrative of events which was read on the first day of Tarrant's sentencing yesterday – says he only carried out a drone reconnaissance over the Deans Ave building months before the shootings.
Mohammed says pretended to be dead to avoid being killed.
"I didn't move or make any noise. I kept still. I felt him pass me and I felt the air of his body pass my head," he said.
"A few seconds later he passed me again… I could feel his hand with his rifle… Then 3-4m from me he shot at me, missing my head by one inch.
"It went in my shoulder… I didn't move, I didn't make any noise… it took all my strength to continue to play dead."
Mohammed said Tarrant had changed his life for the worse forever.
"Because I have been here in Christchurch for 41 years – of the 51 people who passed away, I personally know 45 of them," he said.
He begged the judge to use the full force of the law to punish Tarrant.
"This man is not showing any remorse… I don't want this man to see the sun," he said.
"Please, we don't want this man to get parole – he has to stay in the prison forever, he's a sick man, he's not a human being.
"Please use all your power… please I beg you… Look at these people who are suffering, use all your power."
The sentencing hearing will resume tomorrow morning.