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R v WE (No 19) [2020] NSWSC 1569

sentence — preparing for or planning for terrorist act involving use of bladed weapon that was or were to be done with intention of advancing political, religious or ideological cause offence contrary to ss 101.6 and 11.2A of Commonwealth Criminal Code nature and circumstances — s 16A(2)(a) — offending was not spontaneous — whilst number of acts in which offender engaged took place on 12 October 2016 activities in days leading up to that cannot be ignored — activities included acquisition of two MTech knives and use of computer to access large quantity of extremist material — co-offenders discussed commission of terrorist attack in mosque bathroom — backpack in offender’s possession carried knives which were to be used in attack as well as handwritten note which directed that those who do not pledge allegiance to ISIS will not find themselves in paradise when they die — offender has been found guilty of preparatory acts — sentencing judge satisfied that terrorist attack was imminent — offender motivated by extremist, perverted and corrupt ideology — offender asserted that extremist material relied upon at trial constituted ‘Islamaphobic manipulation’ — effect of submission was that material was used in alarmist fashion not properly representative of its totality — these propositions are not accepted — evidence was adduced to establish that offender subscribed to violent ideology — presence of benign content on devices does not alter fact that offender accessed and stored large amount of extremist material — objective seriousness of offending falls around mid-range — general deterrence — s 16(A)(2)(ja) — in circumstances where protection of community, punishment of offender and denunciation and deterrence are dominant, subjective circumstances of offender will necessarily be given less weight — substantial sentences are warranted for offending even though force of ideological or religious motivation may mean that deterrence is unlikely to be effective — specific deterrence — s 16A(2)(j) — where offender has not resiled from entrenched extreme ideology significantly heavy sentence will be required to protect the community — contrition — s 16A(2)(f) — offender has not given sworn evidence and has not otherwise demonstrated any remorse or contrition for offending — age — s 16A(2)(m) — offender was 16 years old at time of offending — seriousness of offence is relevant to weight that can be given to youth of offender — does not mean that youth is not important but retribution and deterrence cannot in a case as serious as present give way entirely or even substantially to interests of rehabilitation — where immaturity is significant contributing factor to offence it may fairly be said that criminality involved is less than would be in case of adult of more mature years — offender was close to adulthood — greater weight may be given to retribution — no evidence which supports existence of causal connection between immaturity and offending — rehabilitation — s 16A(2)(n) — in passing sentence for most serious terrorist offences object will be to punish, deter and incapacitate such that rehabilitation is likely to play minor if any part — some evidence points positively towards offender’s prospects of rehabilitation — offender has obtained HSC and engaged in other rehabilitative courses — there have been occasions where offender’s behaviour in custody had posed threat to order and security of centre — offender embarked on hunger strike — even if rehabilitation courses were available sentencing judge could have no confidence that offender would engage in them — successful rehabilitation depends at least in part on offender renouncing any previously held extremist views — offender’s prospects of rehabilitation are poor — sentencing judge guarded about likelihood of reoffending — parity — positions of offender and HG essentially indistinguishable in terms of objective seriousness of offending — HG purchased knives but offender paid for them — HG made statements to police which may support conclusion that HG’s views are more extreme and criminality is greater — it is necessary to balance those against offender’s travel to El-Arish and accessing of extremist material — mere fact that HG accessed and held more extremist material of greater objective seriousness does not lead to conclusion that offender’s extremist beliefs were any less entrenched — findings as to respective prospects of rehabilitation, relevance of youth and need for deterrence are essentially same — offender sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment with 12 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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