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R v Uweinat [2021] NSWSC 1256

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of being a member of an organisation, IS, knowing that the organisation was a terrorist organisation contrary to s 102.3(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of intentionally advocating the doing of a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence, being reckless as to whether another person will engage in a terrorist act or commit a terrorism offence contrary to s 80.2C(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.  

Nature and Circumstances: Offender was for a period of 5 months, a member of IS. Offender’s membership of IS was in the nature of an informal arrangement. Offender did not occupy any position of authority or leadership within IS. Offender’s assertion that they were a moderate Muslim is not able to be accepted and is entirely at odds with membership of IS. Offender advocated the commission of terrorist acts over a period of 5 months. Evidence and references to Australian landmarks is at odds with offender’s assertion that they did not support terrorist acts. Conduct is rendered objectively more serious by admission that they engaged in it in the knowledge that they were indoctrinating those younger than them with extremist beliefs.  

Contrition: Offender gave letter to the courts. Offender’s expressions of regret to Muslim Prison Chaplain were a consistent message. Sworn evidence given be offender’s mother and stepfather were of similar effect. Offender is genuinely contrite for offending.  

Age: Offender was aged 21 years of age at the time of offending. Considerations of general deterrence and retribution cannot be completely ignored in the present case. There remains a significant public interest in deterring anti-social conduct. The emphasis on rehabilitation when sentencing a young offender may be moderated when that offender conducts themselves in the way in which an adult might. Retribution cannot give way entirely or perhaps even substantially to the interests of rehabilitation.  

Rehabilitation: Psychologist’s view is that offender’s successful rehabilitation is dependent upon not resuming associations with persons of extremist beliefs. In May 2020, 6 months following arrest, offender was found with three letters. The offender had used a name which they had previously used to identify themselves as the author of two martyrdom images. One of the inmates who sent letters to offender was a known member of IS. Prospects of rehabilitation are dependent on not choosing to associate with such persons. Circumstances cause some note of caution in what is an otherwise generally favourable assessment of rehabilitation.  

Offender sentenced to 3 years and 11 months imprisonment with a 2 year and 11 month non-parole period.
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