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The Benbrika Verdicts

Mark Sergeant is a long-time Webdiary contributor (wrote the 50,000th comment, he did) with a sharp eye for legal anomalies. This is his third piece for Webdiary:

The Benbrika Verdicts
by Mark Sergeant

Readers are probably aware by now that the jury in the Benbrika case has delivered a variety of verdicts (with a couple more as follow up). The net result is, of the original 13 charged, seven have been found guilty on one or more charges, four not guilty on any charge, one where the jury could not reach a verdict, and one turned "state's evidence", pled guilty, and is already serving a five and a half year sentence.

It's difficult commenting on jury verdicts. Normally, all we have are second-hand reports from the media, which are necessarily incomplete, often from partisan sources and sometimes misleading. We do not know, apart from the verdict, what the jury thought, or how they reached their conclusions. We take it on trust that the jury has been conscientious. A written judgment is a decent source document, and there is at least an illusion that we have access to the relevant material.

So the jury deliberated, over 21 days, working its way through the evidence, and in the end arriving at a set of verdicts that are, probably, about right. Benbrika, the mastermind, convicted on all charges. Some convicted, some not. Some convicted on some charges and not on others. One they couldn't decide on. It is what you would expect if Benbrika was creating a terrorist organisation - a small group of people with a range of degrees of involvement. But it reminds me of the Hicks saga, and the Ahmed Ali liquibomber case. Part of the Hicks bargain was that he was found not guilty on the greater charge of providing support for an act of terrorism. The liquibombers were found not guilty of plotting to bring down a trans-Atlantic airliner. Certainly in the Hicks case, and quite probably in the Ahmed Ali and Benbrika cases, the prosecution were pursuing charges where they had little or no substantial evidence to lend weight to the more nebulous (and lesser) charges where they did have significant evidence. Understandable, perhaps, but should our representatives be prosecuting charges they know will fail as a tactic to secure conviction on lesser charges?

Considering our safety as citizens, there may be something more important than these verdicts that happened along the way. It's R v Benbrika & Ors (Ruling no 20), and it found that it was unreasonable for the accused to be transported from Geelong to Melbourne each trial day, shackled, in the orange jump suits and with strip searches at each end. They were, remember, not convicted of anything at the time. Some of them have just, six months later, been acquitted on all charges.

And, of course, we have the pollies tough on terrorism. As always


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Sheer madness

Why oh why is the sad event of a demented Finnish gunman being compared to the Benbrika Verdicts, but even worse, why am I and others actually responding to this rubbish?

Your ability to draw comparisons between disconnected events is infinite, Eliot.

What was the man going to do with the fertiliser he probably didn't want until badgered by some useless spook looking to get up the next rung of the ladder in the Keelty Keystone Kops? God only knows - possibly to spread it on his garden.

One thing is for sure – you and I will never know.

It's not over yet.. retrial may not go ahead

Why are the prosecution considering not going ahead?  The bail hearing  for Shane Kent resumes next week

[ABC extract]

In preliminary argument before his bail application, the court heard Kent is potentially facing another trial on two more terrorism-related charges.

But the prosecution could not confirm whether the charges would proceed.

Something's changed. I wonder what? Stay tuned.

Spot on (I hope) Paul

If you're speculating that the prosecution might be having trouble producing fresh evidence that doesn't have Keelty's fingerprints on it, I'd reckon you're right.

A not guilty verdict on this retrial would be a blow to the cause.  After the West Gate Bridge Plot couldn't even pass muster as a Murdoch story, let alone evidence, there can't be much left to scrape from the bottom of the barrel that  would make the "beyond reasonable doubt"  category?

At  the same time, not proceeding with the trial would be contradictory to the adamancy of  Mick's insistence that this trial would lift the lid off the level of terrorism in Australia.

Do you wonder where matters stand regarding the trial of the Sydney "cell"? It's all been very quiet since the hearing at which the defendants were charged was broadcast across the world...

Good grief!

Isn't it all in the Tele or the ' Tiser?

Perhaps ACA will have something on it?

let them eat cake.

You are talking about the newspaper report about them dropping a couple of charges relating to aiding El what's its face, Richard?

Perhaps its all on the verge of collapsing, after the Haneef fiasco.

Conspiracy this and conspiracy that

Marilyn Shepherd :  "Am I guilty of a word crime under your definition of a crime? In every aspect of criminal law a crime has to be committed before anyone can be charged for it".

Actually it doesn't - never has it had to be. Not under any basic western world law I know of. There is something called conspiracy - that's the crime. The action of planning a criminal adventure successfully or not.

I love the at least once a year pissed off spouse seeking out the hitman story - always ends up being an undercover cop. Always amazes me how little these people are actually willing to pay, most of them are indeed trapped out haggling on prices (eyes popping). I mean if you're only willing to pay five tops to off someone, you'd think Divorce Court wouldn't be the worst option. 

Demonstrated by the outcome

Michael de Angelos: "I don't think the Finnish police actually set about selling the Finnish gunman a weapon did they, Eliot ... as in the agent who was negotiating with this lot a plan to sell them fertiliser?"

And what was he going to do with the fertiliser, Michael? Grow tabouli?

And if I'm not mistaken, the Finnish police issued Matti Juhani Saari with a gun licence:

"Police were aware of this and spoke to him on Monday, September 22. ... However the police officer on duty decided there was no need to terminate his gun licence," Ms Holmlund said, adding that he held a "temporary licence for a .22-calibre gun he obtained in 2008".

Richard Tonkin: "First major difference between the Finnish tragedy and the Benbrika case. In one there were weapons, and a demonstrated ability to carry out the professed desire."

Demonstrated by the outcome. My point exactly. Up till then, he was only talking.

Never mind, Eliot

What you seem quite prepared to overlook in the Melbourne case is a demonstrable capability to commit  the crime.  For example again, how're you going to blow up the MCG when you can't even manage a tree stump?

From what you've seen, disallowing the hindsight of the Finnish attack, would you have known it was going to happen?

wild goose chases

Actually the sort of money wasted on these sorts of politicised "terrist" junk came out during the Dr Haneef case.

No doubt a similar case in Finland. If the sort money wasted on politicised scaremongering was used properly resourcing police to deal with real criminal activity, the gunman might never have done his dirty deed.

Assumptions and about words

Irfan Yusuf: "In the West, too many self-styled terrorism "experts" want us to forget that this latest attack is yet another reminder that most victims of Islamist terror are themselves ordinary Muslims."

Irfan writing on his thread about the Marriot attack. It seems our respected contributor has, like me, no trouble suggesting this attack was the work of Islamic extremists. After all the verbal threats made by Islamists in that country to target such places, a reasonable assumption by Irfan I think.

As for the Finland attack Paul Walter, well it seems this fellow presented two faces to the world, all words, yet words that should have been taken more seriously it would seem. You say that If the sort money wasted on politicised scaremongering was used properly resourcing police to deal with real criminal activity, the gunman might never have done his dirty deed. But all he did was talk, didn't he? He owned the gun legally, did he not? Was there anything that he did before the event for which he could have been charged?

Weren't the police in Melbourne just trying to act before the dirty deed was done, by taking the talk of those men seriously?

Knowing when to move on people who just talk about commiting a crime or terrorist act would not be an easy call for any police service - especially if the laws are not there to back them up.

But apart from all that, what a sad world it is when young people see murdering their friends, classmates and teachers as a way to express their anger and seek release from their troubled minds. Very depressing. What started this terrible phenomenon of murdering children and students in schools? I don't recall it being an issue before that dreadful Dunblane massacre. So very depressing.

Yum - easy pickings

Why Eliot thank you kindly for another red one.

Gobble gobble gulp burp.... 

Finnish, English same same

I don't think the Finnish police actually set about selling the Finnish gunman a weapon did they, Eliot ... as in the agent who was negotiating with this lot a plan to sell them fertiliser?

Proves nothing, Eliot

... but if you want to dance on eggshels, fine. First major difference between the Finnish tragedy and the Benbrika case. In one there were weapons, and a demonstrated ability to carry out the professed desire.

That's the Finnish one, in case you were wondering.

I wonder how that would translate into Finnish?

Richard Tonkin: "And yet we're going to all this trouble to convict on conversations?"

I wonder how that would translate into Finnish?

Finnish Interior Minister Anne Holmlund said meanwhile that police had questioned the suspected shooter the day before the attack after he posted a video of himself at a shooting range on the internet.

Police were aware of this and spoke to him on Monday, September 22... However the police officer on duty decided there was no need to terminate his gun license," she said, adding that he held a "temporary license for a .22-caliber gun he obtained in 2008."

Yeah. Just because someobody says they're going to kill people, only a fool would think that meant they might go ahead and kill people.

Especially if they started accumulating weapons.

The West Gate Bomb Plot

The thing that strikes me about the "West Gate Bomb Plot" is how totally ordinary it is. If I was chatting to a mate, and he mentioned he'd been working with a guy who told him about installing anti-terrorist stuff on the Harbour Bridge, or the Opera House or wherever, my natural response would be to extemporise a plan to blow the place up. A nice joke, and all the better if you can do it deadpan and in tempo. It's the sort of thing a mate would mention, too - it's reasonably high on the scale of interesting things to talk about.

The prosecution didn't use it because all it proves is that these guys are human. Not what they were trying to prove.

They still didn't break any law really

Jenny and Alan will you get over your scary rubbish.

Sorry Marilyn

Sorry Marilyn, didn't mean to scare you.  


Richard Tonkin: "Are you aware of any preparations being made, beyond talk, to blow up the AFL Grand Final?"

When something of this sort happens eventually, the emphasis will shift to castigating the AFP and the courts for not taking such talk seriously enough.

Remember Bali? For years afterwards the blogosphere was filled with recriminations against Downer and Howard for not taking seriously enough prior indications that something was being planned, and not giving better and more frequent warning to Australian tourists.

Do you remember that?

Advance warning

"When something of this sort happens eventually, the emphasis will shift to castigating the AFP and the courts for not taking such talk seriously enough.

Your comparision to the Bali intel, Eliot, is a useful one. The US posted traveller warnings, Australia didn't even bother to copy and paste. And yet we're going to all this trouble to convict on conversations?

We should've pulled the plug on the Haneef investigation when it was going nowhere, and the continued attempts now appear to be a perversion of the course of justice. This one doesn't look much better.

The trouble is that politicising terror attacks has demonstrated that we have an ineptitude in our counterterrorism procedures that would serve as an efficient smokescreen for a true attack. That's Keelty's legacy, and Achilles Heel, for which the AFP may well indeed be castigated.

I don't think you get the point, Jenny and Alan

My worry, and others it would seem, is the way these convictions have been obtained.

I certainly place no trust in the AFP, certainly after the Haneef affair which not only demonstrated a capacity to deliberately flout the law, but that they are also completely hopeless. Reading the transcripts of the Haneef interviews reveals such ignorance on the AFP's part you must wonder what these guys actually do all day. Heaven help us if there is a large plot out there to bomb an airport. I have no confidence in them to uncover such a plot before it happens.

As it is, we have now joined the big boys and have had our own "terrorist" plot – seemingly delivered to us on a plate although security agencies appear to have been actively involved in it for two years. Is it a case of massaging along a bunch of incompetents until they finally cross the line? That's certainly the case in one aspect with Keelty going back to the government to having wording on a crime reworded to encompass these "plotters".

Get it but don't buy it

Oh I think I get the point you and others are trying to make here, Michael. It is not that I don't get it. It is that I just don't buy it, and I would believe that in that I would have plenty of company out there in the community at large.

I see no problem with making sure the law is worded in such a way that these plotters do not go free. If the law is not worded properly, then fix it so that it is.

Now here is a joke for you all. So many like to ridicule and judge poor old Costello for his smirk, while ignoring that of the Doctor.

What did the Doctor say to Costello in the pub?

You call that a smirk? This is a smirk.

I doubt I have seen a better smirk in my life than that on the dial of the good doctor in that scene of him in the car. So if people are going to judge others by their smirk, they should not be so selective about it.

Just talk by the way. I take your point, no harm in talk.

The story that wouldn't be bought

Jenny, have a look over the Media Watch transcript. It contains about as much evidence as anything else in this case. The only difference is that there was less "data".

Would you prefer that the laws were changed to match the Herad-Sun's story?

Are you aware of any preparations being made, beyond talk,to blow up the AFL Grand Final?

There has been a total lack of taking into account the inabillity of this group to actually pull off anythng they talked about. If they had no idea how to blow up a tree stump with ammonium nitrate how the hell were they going to wreck the MCG.?

Many of the community at large may well agree with you, Jenny, but I suspect they are mostly people who read bullshit without questioning.

This whole farce is begiining to resemble Guantanamo in too many ways. However, Jenny, do I remember you saying that those prisoners should be kept locked up too?

No Richard

No Richard, I never made to my recollection a statement that all the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should be kept locked up, and certainly not for years without fair trial. (If I did then point me to it.) No doubt some of those there do pose a real security threat, and need to be dealt with, if necessary locked up for however long is necessary to keep the public safe from them. Due legal process however should be followed to ensure their rights are protected. That has not happened to date. No one should be locked up for years without trial.

As for the Media Watch report, that is just reporting a newspaper report and I for one do not take at face value anything I read in the papers, despite your suggestion to the contrary. Interesting how so many on this site link to them, though, to back up what they write, as if the papers were the authority on everything.

Those men were not convicted on what the newspapers wrote, they were convicted on the evidence placed before a jury in a court of law. Whether we agree with the relevant law or not is not the issue. They were convicted on the evidence. Found guilty as charged.

Now unless you have evidence that that jury did not do its job, or that the evidence placed before it did not support the verdicts the jurors reached, or evidence that the judge erred in his directions, then I suggest that the claims made here about the case have no more credibility than what is written in the mainstream media about the issue.

If these men were wrongfully charged and convicted, or the evidence does not support the charges under the relevant law, or the verdicts, then they will win on appeal, as I said before. I say let the legal process run its course.

What I really have a problem with is that you and others here seem to think that it is no big deal if people get together and plot murder and destruction. The fact that they had not obtained the means to turn their talk into an act of terror is to me totally irrelevant. People determined enough will ultimately find the means, one way or another. They may finish up botching the job, but It does not take much to make and set off a car bomb in a busy street.

You and others here seem to think these men had absolutely no intention of doing anything at all, that they were just all talk, and would be nothing but all talk. What is your evidence for that, I wonder?

I think you all miss the point. If people talk about commiting an act of terror, and have a seemingly clear desire to do so, then few rational people would suggest that they not be taken seriously and arrested. If the police hear the talk, believe it to be serious talk, but then sit back and wait to see how serious they are, then God help us. I hope it is not me or one of mine who happens to be walking past when words become action.

Now I do not think we are on the same wave length over this one, and I doubt that will change.

Corrupt as Guantanamo?

You're right Jenny, I can't recall you making such assertions regarding Guantanamo inmates, and for that insinuation I apologise.

I guess I've got that aspect on the brain too much. Keelty's implied promise that the verdict of this case would be revelatory rings too many bells with ex-Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor Morris Davis's received orders to get results. Keelty couldn't have made such assertions had he not been fairly certain of the trial's outcome. So, no, I don't trust the verdict, and given the history surrounding the decisions, I have plenty of justification in being sceptical.

I think it is you that is missing the point. We've been fed so much bull in this issue that it's impossible to have trust in our counterterrorism legalities. Unfortunately, this is a beautiful smokescreen in which a true threat could be concealed.

Given the amount of time it's taken for Keelty to take his teeth out of Haneef's throat, how do we assume he and his enforcers are behaving any differently now?

The point of the MW transcript is that it debunks a created myth of an attack that was never going to occur. Could I suggest a re-read?

We're never on the same wavelength on such issues, never will be. There's no harm in that. You think I should follow the decrees of law without question, while I'll always question how such decisions arose. Especially in such cases where there are plenty of supportive precedents. In my mind, our counterterrorism response might well be as politically corrupt as that of the US.

Then we will let it rest

Then we will let it rest, Richard.

I guess I just have more faith in the processes than you. I don't like Keelty much myself, and yes they've made some bad bungles. But I do think it must be a nightmare trying to balance protecting the public from lunatics and protecting the rights of the individual in the current environment.

Maybe they jumped too soon in pulling those fellows in. But is that worse than jumping too late?

At the end of the day, it clearly is very great folly for anyone to talk about blowing anything or anyone up in this day and age. 

Now I am probably out for the count and tomorrow is another funeral day. Another hole blown in the fabric of life. That's five in the past year. Too many. I think your expression, one's cage is rattled is very apt.

BTW; I see Schumann advertised over this way on prime time Teev. Maybe I will have to revise my opinion of him. I still think Ian does Lawson in a more, shall we say, Lawson way.

Due process

 Jenny Hume, you have made some interesting comments:

Due legal process however should be followed to ensure their rights are protected. ... They were convicted on the evidence.

I'd like you to compare the above comments with the following which you made on another thread at a time when noone knew who had committed the act referred to and noone had claimed responsibility:

I see the Marriott in Islamabad has gone up today under a huge bomb, many killed and a whole lot more wounded. Clearly they were trying to target western interests, caring not a hoot, though, for their Muslim brothers and sisters who worked in the place.

Do you see any inconsistency?

No Graeme I don't

"Do you see any inconsistency?"

No Graeme, I don't and taking comments out of context in relation to three entirely unrelated sets of circumstances serves no purpose.

In relation to the incident in Pakistan, I named no one nor accused anyone.

The assumption that the unnamed they perpetators might be of similar faith to some of the victims is more than reasonable, and highly likely to be correct.

If there is one country where the talk by Islamic extremists is put into action, Pakistan is it. 

I doubt there will be any process arising out of this event, due or otherwise. The perpetrators of these acts in that country either take themselves out with their victims, or they flee like the cowards they are back to where they think they are safe from any chance of being held accountable.

If however the perpetrators turn out to be Hindu extremists taking revenge for the recent attacks in India, then I will stand corrected. But the targeted building suggests otherwise.  

Yes, talk by Islamic extremists should be taken seriously, very seriously.

A matter of principles

Jenny Hume, so it was a matter of taking comments out of context, was it? I thought it was more about the consistent application of principles.

A further inconsistency is to be found in your comments in your reply. First:

In relation to the incident in Pakistan, I named no one nor accused anyone.

Yet you had made a reference to "their Muslim brothers and sisters".  So you were accusing a group if not any individuals by name. But to cover yourself:

The assumption that the unnamed they perpetators might be of similar faith to some of the victims is more than reasonable, and highly likely to be correct. 

Amongst other comments aimed at a group. 

On what basis do you claim you opinion is "highly likely to be correct" given that you have provided no evidence to support it?

An opinion is just that

You are nit picking, Graeme. An opinion is just that, an opinion - nothing more, nothing less. And based on the current circumtances that exist in Pakistan, I think mine, together with its underlying assumptions, is a reasonable one.

As I said, if my opinion turns out to be wrong, then I will stand corrected. I will be very surprised however if it is.

Oh, and I don't feel any need to cover myself. I accept that my original comment carried an underlying assumption, but I do not accept that it was an unreasonable one. Still don't.

If you disagree, I accept that.

A matter of opinion

Jenny Hume, in assigning responsibility for criminal actions I prefer evidence to assumptions. Which you do as well, but apparently only some of the time.

As to being ready to stand corrected  if proved wrong, what of abuses suffered and freedoms rolled back in the meantime?

BTW on your comment "And based on the current circumstances that exist in Pakistan, ...", how do you know what the current circumstances in Pakistan are? Yes, I am trying to find out what sources inform your opinions. You might address these matters, if you so choose, in light of an earlier comment you made to Richard:

Now unless you have evidence that that jury did not do its job, or that the evidence placed before it did not support the verdicts the jurors reached, or evidence that the judge erred in his directions, then I suggest that the claims made here about the case have no more credibility than what is written in the mainstream media about the issue.

brick walls

Mark Sergeant,  thanks for update. Perhaps now some seemingly bright people, in the wake of the SMH article, will finally get what it is they so willfully misunderstand, as regards previous attempts.

So we treat them as jokers, do we?

So we treat these blokes as if they were just joking around do we Paul Walter?

Well no thanks. If they talk about blowing people up, then I say lock them up before they do. And I suggest that would be the view of the majority in the community.

The tune here will change the day we have a Marriott.

Why do seemingly bright people find it so hard to understand that without proper security and adequate laws to deal with and head these sort of nut cases off, then Australia will be just as much a target as any other country.

Security in India and Pakistan is hopeless. The outcome of that is obvious.

Go into any airport, Paul, and talk loud enough for others to hear that you are going to blow up a plane. Would you think that being arrested and charged was a breach of your rights? It sounds like it. Get real I say. If I heard you I would call the police and report you and hope that they would charge you and lock you up.

Anyone stupid enough to talk about carrying out a terrorist act in the current climate of world terrorism must expect to take the consequences - loss of freedom.

As I said, they were not charged with discussing a break-in of a chocolate factory. Anyway, those idiots in Pakistan will only serve to make the security services all over the world err more on the side of caution than ever.

And rightly so. The message loud and clear is, there are some things that it does not pay to joke about.

One assumes that those who shout in protest over this case think that these blokes were only joking. If not, then why should they not be locked up before they could act?


Jenny Hume, I think most normal people would like to think that our security people were taking these jokers off the street. I wonder if Paul Walter realises that it is only a matter of time before one of his friendly Islamists lets off a bomb here on Oz. Should Paul to walk into an airport and joke about having a bomb in his briefcase, I would certainly report him as would most people.

Still in the News

The SMH had an opinion piece a few days ago: Identifying clear and present danger.

In closed terrorism cases, the jury is a powerful mechanism for ensuring an independent trial and the accountability of government agencies for their actions. And, while some criticise juries for lacking legal knowledge, as long as criminal laws use clear language, this should not create a problem for the deciders of fact.

Unfortunately, Australia's terrorism laws were not written with lay people in mind.

The ABC Radio National's Law Report will broadcast The Benbrika Terror Trial tomorrow (23 September, at 8:30am & 8:00pm). Transcript and audio should be available after the broadcast.

And Media Watch had a story about the media coverage!

Media Watch spot on, "West Gate Bridge Plot" bullshit

I'll  save my breath, Mark, on MW till I can put up a transcript. Suffice to say this example is typical of what's been happening to this case since the outset.  Remember, this was the shocking revelation that Keelty promised us in return for our helpful slence.


What crap.

A backlash that's essential

I hope the prisoner is successful in his lawsuit alleging discrimination and it's in everyone's benefit if he is.

The blatant sensationalising of this case was a sheer disgrace from the first minute and a prime example of how politicised security services have become.

The raids, with some media being invited to film and photograph them. Then the laughable, bizarre and pointless way in which the accused were shackled and made to wear orange jumpsuits a la Guatanamo Bay. From the word go the message was being sent: "dangerous terrorists"!

Throw in the manner in which the law was changed mid-stream to include the actions of these guys.

Just as the reviled Denis Ferguson was successful in winning compensation against an old age pensioner in a Queensland court yesterday, for harrassment, every citizen is entitled to equal respect under the law. Despite some idiotic Queensland Deputy Premier describing this court result as "unfortunate".

If the AFP boss ever does us a favour and quits his job he would find ready employment on the set of Home & Away as a publicist for soapie stars.

How to start a backlash

"A convicted killer and ringleader of the "Super Max jihadists" may make legal history by claiming that his segregation from other prisoners represents a false imprisonment."

Most people are going to get sick of that sort of crap really quickly, aren't they?

Keelty's dark hand at work

It's significant that the hopeless yet powerful AFP boss went back to the government in the middle of this operation to get wording in the "anti-terrorism" laws changed from planning a specific act to include just a general "plot" with no actual target.

This is thought crime in its real sense. Identify a person or persons, watch them and investigate, and then enact a law to make illegal some part of their activities. It's a sure way to win a conviction every time. In the end, laws would become meaningless.

It's always been an aspect of enacting laws that they are not retroactive. Anyone who thinks once this process has started that it will not stray to other areas is dreaming.

Go and read it and weep: They Thought They Were Free by German-born journalist Milton Meyer, published in 1955. You will find nothing new there that isn't happening today.

You will find where this stuff ends, though.

Where I stand

on this and other issues, Jenny Hume, is that I like to discuss rather than debate an issue, listen to others' opinions, and hope to read creative and original thoughts and solutions.

That innocent people can be locked up for three years and subjected to the shackles etc, is obviously unconscionable. I can, unfortunately, imagine the trauma and grief. This is not the behaviour of the society that I think I live in. Guilty or not, there has to be a better way.

On the other hand, all these posts remind me of Leonard Woolf, at the end of his life, saying that for all the difference that his hundreds of thousands of printed words had made to the world, he may as well have spent his life playing pingpong.

Or, more pithily, Jonathon Scott's memories of childhood:

I considered the drinking of gin to be a very strange thing, especially since, as far as I could see, nothing else happened except talking, which I knew then, and have confirmed since, is pointless.

Pour the gin. Hold the words.

Evan 'elp us

Anthony Nolan: "Cast your mind back."

Greatest snow job in Australian legal history. And the police and prosecution had a bit to answer for, too.

Now this is a terrorist attack


And it is not the first time we have murdered innocent civilians in this sort of botched nonsense.

Jenny that is still crap

Judges cannot make judgements about the findings of a jury. Jesus Christ this is so bloody stupid.

Tell us precisely what they did, who were the victims, who was hurt, who was the "group", how much did they have.

Give me a break. The very fact that the so-called treasurer was acquitted shows you how dumb the frolicking jury were.

Read Marilyn read

Marilyn, read what I wrote and if you cannot understand it then don't bother to answer. No one said judges make judgements about the findings of a jury. Stop making things up. Judges do however make decisions about what is admissable evidence or not and will order the jury to ignore this or that. And they will direct juries before they retire as you should know.

The jury was told what these men did, the judge did not rule against the evidence put forward and the jury convicted some of them on that evidence. Go that? Good.

Seems you have trouble accepting that. Oh well. That is your problem not mine.

Yes Kathy, I saw that case. And notice if you go to the airport these days you are warned that if you make a threat, even jokingly, you will be arrested.

Rightly so. Only fools make threats to mass murder and think they can get away with it in this day and age. Those fellows were either fools, or they meant business. The jury decided they meant business.

Good day to you all. Live in blind faith that those who talk mass murder are only talking if you like, but I certainly do not intend to do so. Nor will the police or the courts methinks, thankfully.

The twilight zone of police informers

Cast your mind back.

Hilton bombing.

Richard Seary (Police informer - declared an 'unreliable witness');

Evan Pederick - 'confessed' (mental health issues);

Raymond Denning - NSW most famous gaol escapee who gave evidence of a so called 'admission' overheard in gaol.

I tell ya' - Keelty has got to go.

Jenny, there was no evidence

That is the problem. Not a trace of actual evidence of any wrongdoing was ever presented to the court, just a lot of circumstantial nonsense.

 Think Lindy Chamberlain.

Oh for heaven's sake, Marilyn

Marilyn, for heaven's sake. Just as the issue of Cornelia Rau was irrelevant here so also is that of Lindy Chamberlain. No comparison whatsoever, my dear.

These would be terrorists were convicted on the evidence, no matter how you or anyone else categorises that evidence, by a lawfully constituted court and jury - convicted of a wrongdoing. You do not get convicted unless there is acceptable evidence of a wrongdoing. It seems you have difficulty understanding what constitutes and does not constitute evidence. If they were wrongfully convicted on inadmissible or lack of evidence, then they will win on appeal.

No one here was on that jury but those who were, and the judge seemed to have no difficulty accepting certain charges of wrongdoing proven, on the evidence presented. To quote your favourite: Got that? Good.

Paul Walter, the seemingly bright people here you allude to just might not be that bright. Or more likely, the fact that these fellows were convicted just does not fit the paradigm. That is far more likely I think you will find. Even if these fellows had been caught with a bomb in the boot of their car you would find certain people here defending them, of that I am certain.

As I said, these people were not planning to raid a chocolate factory but from the way some write here one could be forgiven for thinking that they were. They were in fact bent on committing mass murder. Period.

Kids who verbally threaten to kill other students in their school these days run real risk of being arrested, and for very good reason. In today's climate, people who make terrorist or similar threats, or incite others to do so, will and should be taken seriously and I hope will continue to be arrested, charged and locked up. The days for that sort of idle talk are well and truly over and anyone with any intelligence would know that and those who engage in it must expect to be taken seriously and dealt with.

I would be surprised if the majority of people in this country did not agree with that.

Da Bomb

Jen: "In today's climate, people who make terrorist or similar threats or incite others to do so, will and should be taken seriously and I hope will continue to be arrested, charged and locked up."

Just like this bloke: http://travel.iafrica.com/flights/1158981.htm

Good grief, Jenny!

What have you been doing to cause someone to want to murder you?

The issue of the mentally ill is a touchy subject certainly in NSW. Neville Wran was the premier responsible for closing psychiatric hospitals and sending patients out into the community as an experiment (although I'm sure the prime real estate was more of a consideration). Sadly, the minister who implemented that policy received some comeback in an unexpected fashion when both his sons committed suicide.

NSW police are now basically de-facto psychiatric nurses and constantly complain that they are doing the difficult work that should be handled by experts.

There is a defence in criminal law of psychiatric illness when committing a crime but magistrates routinely dismiss it in partisan fashion and then an appeal court has to implement it.

Do we know of the psychiatric condition of the Benbrika defendants? How much was just fantasy talk and how much was real?

Who me?

Michael de Angelos: "What have you been doing to cause someone to want to murder you ?"

Who, me, Michael? Kill - sweet little innocent me? Calm down good sir. 'Twasn't me that was the intended victim. Eternal triangle affair - nothing to do with me. But I knew the bloke's family - decent people. Very upsetting for them. Just talk mostly, but the intent was clear, and he went down.

As to the issue of the police feeling they have to be de-facto psychiatric nurses, the issue is that crisis team workers are not really equipped or trained to handle mentally ill who may be violent or trying to harm themselves. So they often won't go unless the police will be present to back them up. Getting the police to do that can be a challenge as I noted in my comment. Mind you, their methods needed, and in some case still need, some modification.

I agree with you about the closing of the mental institutions. I had my first job in one back in the fifties. They certainly needed reform. Instead they just shut them down and turned long term residents out on the streets. A bloody disgrace.

These days many mentally ill as you know are either in gaols or living on the streets.

I would not know what the mental condition of the Benbrika defendants was. That is up to the court to examine and take into consideration in sentencing. It will be interesting to see if any mitigating circumstances of that nature are claimed in an effort to have sentences reduced.

Jenny - this is tiresome

I said many times I would like to kill or maim Ruddock and Howard and many others.

Am I guilty of a word crime under your definition of a crime? In every aspect of criminal law a crime has to be committed before anyone can be charged for it.

These men talked. Nothing more.

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