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DPP (Cth) v Ali [2020] VSCA 330

Offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of intentionally doing an act in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act contrary to s 101.6(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Original sentence imposed 10 years’ imprisonment with a 7 year and 6-month non-parole period. CDPP appealed on the basis that the sentence and non-parole period were manifestly inadequate.  

Nature and Circumstances: The offence embraces acts done in preparation for and planning of a very wide range of actions. Two features can be viewed as two axes of seriousness for sentencing purposes. The first, focusing on acts in contemplation, includes both threats and other actions targeted at property, electronic systems, public health or safety and the physical well-being and lives of other persons. The second, concentrating on acts actually done, encompasses a myriad of activities including conversations, research, acquisition of equipment, strategic planning, recruitment of fellow offenders and everything done in preparation or planning short of the terrorist act itself. The terrorist act for which the offender planned and prepared was of the most terrible kind. Offender intended to inflict mass casualties on random members of the public, gathered together at a time of annual civic celebration. The taking of hostages was calculated to subject a smaller group of victims to a more intimately terrifying encounter. The whole plan was designed with the objective of instilling widespread fear in the community and to inspire others. Both the objective gravity of the offending and the offender’s moral culpability were of the highest level.  

Manifest Inadequacy: Just as youth is of diminished significance in cases of extreme violence, so mitigating factors personal to the offender may be given reduced weight in sentencing for terrorist offences. A sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment was on the facts of the case outside the range reasonably open to the sentencing judge. The sentence failed to sufficiently denounce the offending or to serve as a general deterrent.  

Appeal allowed. Offender resentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment with a 12 year non-parole period. But for plea of guilty offender would have been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment with 15 year non-parole period.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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