Two Melbourne terror plotters will spend more time behind bars. Two young Melbourne men who pleaded guilty to separate terror-related offences will spend more time behind bars, after the Court of Appeal agreed their original sentences were too lenient.
The Court of Appeal handed down its rulings on Friday to challenges by Commonwealth prosecutors against sentences imposed last year on Sevdet Besim, who planned to behead a police officer at an Anzac Day service in 2015, and on a teenager known as MHK who built a bomb and planned to detonate it on Mother’s Day the same year.
Chief Justice Warren, Justice Mark Weinberg, and Justice Stephen Kaye agreed that both sentences were inadequate.
In relation to Besim, they agreed with the contention of Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Sarah McNaughton, SC, that it was incorrect for the sentencing judge, Justice Michael Croucher, to conclude there was a “reasonable possibility” Besim would not have gone through with the attack.
Similarly, they agreed it was not the responsibility of the prosecution to prove Besim still believed in violent jihad when it came to Justice Croucher’s consideration of the need to protect the community when deciding his sentence.
In the matter of MHK, the court agreed with the sole ground of appeal raised by the prosecution, which was that the sentence was manifestly inadequate, given it was punishable with life imprisonment, and that mitigating factors regarding the man’s renouncement of Islamic State and remorse could not outweigh the need for general deterrence.
Ms McNaughtonsaidduring the appeal hearing on June 9 that the intentions of both MHK and Besimintended to terrorise and kill Australians on home soil.
MHK was arrested in May 2015 and last year, at 18, became the youngest person jailed in Australia for a terror offence. He made bombs from household items, and police safely detonated them in a park.
Besim was also arrested in the days before his intended attack, and Ms McNaughton said that the young man had readied himself to fulfil his plans.
“The only thing to be done was waiting for Anzac Day to come about,” she said.
“Not on any day, but on Anzac Day … that is particularly shocking, particularly outrageous and designed to terrorise.”
Robert Richter, QC, for MHK, said the teenager had renounced his extreme views and was reforming, and that the longer he spent in jail the greater the risk of re-radicalisation.
Their casessparked vicious comments from federal ministers about the ideological bent and ineffectiveness of the Court of Appeal, and set in train a series of events which could see them referred for contempt.
The Solicitor-General is set to appear before the court on Friday and offer an apology on behalf of the ministers, after refusing to do so last week.
Meanwhile, an appeal to increase the sentence of another young Melbourne man, Hassan ElSabsabi, who pleaded guilty to a terror-related offence,was dismissed.
Justices Robert Redlich, Phillip Priest, and David Beach of the Victorian Court of Appeal ruled on Friday that El Sabsabi’s conviction and sentence would stand.
ElSabsabimet US nationalAbedallahKarram online and sent him $16,000 after learning he planned to fight in Syria against the Assad regime.
Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said last year he had planned to send El Sabsabi back to jail, but found doing so would have been counter-productive,as his rehabilitationwas progressing well and he could have been exposed to more extremism in jail.
He was put on a two-year community corrections order.
On FridayEl Sabsabiwas spared further jail, having served 44 days in custody when arrested in 2014.