Handcuffed and flanked by four security guards, Brenton Tarrant shuffles into court for the first time.
Step by step in a light grey tracksuit and bound at the waist by constraints, a mass murderer is led into the dock in stone cold silence.
The only sound echoing in courtroom 12 is the clinking of chains and keys to release his handcuffs as he is seated for what has become an historic and unprecedented sentencing in New Zealand’s legal history.
He is silent and appears relaxed, crossing his legs, touching his chin on occasion, but otherwise strangely still, casual and at ease.
The magnitude of his chilling crimes is read aloud.
His reaction is once again still.
If there is any remorse or emotion going on inside, this man gives nothing away. It appears as though he is watching and listening to the crimes of someone else being read aloud.
The third floor of the justice precinct in Christchurch is in lockdown, heavily guarded day after day by armed police and security.
A specially coded wristband and accredited lanyard is the only way in for media.
That’s once you have passed security with photo ID, had your temperature checked due to the COVID -19 crisis, and been through security screening and bag checks similar to an airport.
Then his victims speak.
One after one, day after day, 91 in total, pouring out their hearts and soul.
Delivering a series of emotional punches as he’s called the devil, a coward, a rat and a terrorist that deserves to be discarded like a piece of trash.
Heartache, anger, guilt, and forgiveness. Everyone is unique, their gut wrenching stories of survival, love and loss met with a blank expression and empty eyes.
He nods when someone tells the judge “life should be life”.
Does he agree? Or is he simply appeasing the men, women and children that he once marked as targets and gunned down in cold blood.
In court, crowds cry, clap, recite the Koran and prayer alongside a huge local and international media contingent documenting and listening to the stories of the carnage he left behind.
He is being watched closely across eight courtrooms in the building to allow family and those affected the chance to watch his fate play out.
Tarrant laughs, when it’s suggested he may have a few minutes of time, or maybe plenty, to read the Koran as it’s beautiful.
Then the wall of nothingness resumes.
While we have seen the odd glimpse, this man has let no one see inside his mind over four days of scrutiny. He had a chance to speak, but declined.
Many victims arriving at court to deliver their pain are perhaps wanting a reaction, but leaving stronger without one, resilient knowing they’ve spoken their truth and taken with it some peace.