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Abbas v The Queen [2020] VSCA 80

appeal against sentence — conspiring to do acts in preparation for or planning a terrorist act offence contrary to s 11.5(1) and 101.6(1) of Commonwealth Criminal Code — 3 other co-offenders — original sentence imposed 24 years’ imprisonment with a 20 year non-parole period — manifest excess nature and circumstances of the offence — s 16A(2)(a) — although offender attributed themselves a dominant role in conspiracy, sentencing judge prepared to accept that save for recruitment of offender’s brother, offender more or less equal participant in offending — sentencing judge of opinion offender an enthusiastic, committed and important member of the conspiracy — no reason to doubt correctness of sentencing judge’s views — objective seriousness of terrorism conspiracy inherently serious — offender planned massacre of innocent, defenceless civilians according to their concept of religious imperatives — balancing objective seriousness of offending against matters relied upon in mitigation, offender’s youth, utilitarian plea of guilty (unaccompanied by any contrition or remorse) and their co-operation with authorities, appeal judges remain unpersuaded that sentence imposed on offender manifestly excessive — if anything, when one looks objectively at horrifying nature of what was contemplated, sheer magnitude of slaughter anticipated by offender in their fanatical zeal, the sentence imposed in appeal judge’s opinion in quite moderate — objective gravity of offender’s crime and their moral culpability for it, were both of an extremely high order — although relative youth, the guilty plea and co-operation needed to (and, in appeal judges’ view did) result in appropriate amelioration of offender’s sentence, in circumstances of this case pre-eminence needed to be given to both general deterrence and community protection — guilty plea — s 16A(2)(g) — offender submitted utilitarian benefit of plea of guilty ought to be given greater emphasis in case of terrorist offence — as general proposition, that cannot be accepted — weight given to plea of guilty and its utilitarian value will fall to be assessed according to particular circumstances of each individual case — in present case, sentencing judge said utilitarian benefit of offender’s plea would lead to reduction in sentence — appeal judges see no reason to doubt sentencing judge affording offender appropriate reduction in sentence for their plea — co-operation — s 16A(2)(h) — appeal judges see no reason to doubt sentencing judge afforded offender adequate reduction in sentence for their co-operation — plain enough offender commenced to provide most relevant information to police only once (as sentencing judge put it) the ‘game was up’, that information being carefully tailored in endeavour to minimise role of co-offenders — leave to appeal against sentence refused
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