New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant's cousin says he deserves the death penalty for what he's done

Donna Cox, who grew up with Tarrant in Grafton, New South Wales, also said her cousin most probably embraced his extremist views during his travels to various countries


                            New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant's cousin says he deserves the death penalty for what he's done

The family of 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white supremacist who gunned down 50 people at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques on Friday, March 15, is beginning to speak out, with one of his cousins suggesting he deserved the death penalty for the crime.

According to Yahoo News, Donna Cox, who grew up with Tarrant in the riverside town of Grafton in northern New South Wales, claimed there was nothing in his upbringing which could have influenced him to carry out such a horrific attack. "I hurt more for his mother, his sister, because he was never raised like that, in that sort of environment, you know?" she said. "There was no violence. No family’s perfect, but certainly nothing like that. Definitely not."

The shootings at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques left 50 dead (Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
The shootings at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques left 50 dead (Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

"He’s from a very respected family. His mum [and] his dad were pretty high in the community here, and to think that their son has done something like this… they don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve this," Cox continued. Both his mother, a teacher, and his sister had to be whisked away by the police after news broke out that Tarrant was responsible for the shooting, and are said to now be in protective custody.

His classmates said that, as a child, Tarrant was quite popular among his peers and that he was "very much a prankster," but revealed he had always been fascinated with guns and spent all of his time playing violent video games. It's claimed that he even trained for the shooting by playing the highly popular game Fortnite.

But it is suspected that Tarrant may have developed his extremist views while he was traveling the world for seven years following the 2010 death of his father, Rodney, who was a garbage collector in Grafton. The 28-year-old, who was reportedly deeply affected by the death, is believed to have visited North Korea, Japan, India, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, the UK, Pakistan, as well as several other countries during his tour.

Tarrant is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on April 5 (Source: Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)
Tarrant is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on April 5 (Source: Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

"He wasn’t raised like that, but I’m not here to defend him," Cox said. "There’s no excuses for that. I just don’t know why. If I could ask him that, I’d ask him why. How could you do that? That’s a twisted mind right there. You’d have to be to be able to do something like that. That’s not normal. It’s definitely not normal. That’s not him. What changed? That’s definitely somebody else."

It's a view that was shared by Tarrant's grandmother, 81-year-old Marie Fitzgerald, who told Nine News that his travels had affected him.

"The media are saying he's planned it for a long time so he's not of sound mind," she said. "It's only since he traveled overseas, I think, that that boy has changed," adding her grandson showed no signs of extremist ideology the last time they talked.

Tarrant has been charged with one count of murder on connection to the shooting, with several more expected to be brought against him in the coming days. He has sacked his lawyer and will be representing himself in court and has waived his rights to have his name suppressed. He is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on April 5.

"I know what he deserves. He deserves the death penalty for what he's done. And that hurts me to say that because he is family, but for somebody who’s taken that many lives of other people, it’s only fair that he deserves that same thing," Cox said.