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Six life terms for Railroad killer

After a trial that at times verged on the surreal, Colin Ferguson, the Long Island Railroad killer who refused the services of a defence attorney, was finally sentenced yesterday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"I have never presided over a trial with such a selfish and self-centred defendant as you," Judge Donald Belfi declared as he sentenced Ferguson. "What is even more remarkable is your total lack of remorse."

The Jamaican-born Ferguson was convicted last month on charges of killing six people and wounding 19 others in a savage shooting spree aboard a commuter train into Manhattan in December 1993. He transformed his trial into something close to the theatre of the absurd, conducting his own defence, cross-examining victims and referring to himself in the third person.

As he returned to court for sentencing this week, he was confronted once more by the victims and survivors of the tragedy who were given a final opportunity to unleash their fury over the pain he caused them. Throughout he seemed unmoved, maintaining an expression almost of superciliousness.

Robert Guigliano, who was shot in the chest at close range, was the first to speak. "In my heart I feel this animal should suffer until the day he dies," he said. As he left the stand, Mr Guigliano almost lost control of himself and had to be restrained. "Look at these eyes! Look at these eyes! You can't look at them. You're nothing but a piece of garbage. You're a god-damned animal. Five minutes . . . that's all I need with you!"

One of Mr Ferguson's legal advisors, Dennis Lemke, was himself moved to weep on hearing the words of Joyce Gorycki, who lost her husband. She read a letter written by her 11-year-old daughter, Karen, about her father. "He was the best father in the wrold. He was like a saint. I bet he is now."

Appearing together were Kevin McCarthy, 27, shot in the head and now half-paralysed, and his mother Carolyn McCarthy. Her husband died in the attack. "I did not have the luxury of a trial or an appeal," Mr McCarthy said from his wheelchair. I was tried convicted and sentenced by a depraved madman with an assault gun."

With her son sobbing by her side, Mrs McCarthy, herself struggling to retain her composure, told Ferguson: "I will give you no hatred. I will give you none of my rage. You are an evil person, so you are not worthy of my time or thoughts. You are not worthy of my energy."

Judge Belfi sentenced Ferguson to 25 years in jail for each of the six murder convictions to be served consecutively.