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Abdulrahman was charged with 27 firearms offences in violation of various sections of the Firearms Act

While the accused was unlikely to flee, his alleged possession of multiple rifles suggested dangerous criminal behaviour that warranted his continued detention

Most people who are charged with a crime are released on bail until the charge is resolved. In Abdulrahman v R [2015] NSWCCA 238, decided 2 September 2015, the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) considered whether the accused should be detained rather than released.

Abdulrahman was charged with 27 firearms offences in violation of various sections of the Firearms Act 1996. Most of the charges involved the possession of unauthorized prohibited firearms (section 7(1)) or the possession of unregistered firearms (section 36(1)).

Facts influencing bail

Abdulrahman completed high school and obtained a hairdressing diploma. He is married with four children. He has substantial ties to the community in Sydney, where he lives with his family. He has owned his home for twelve years, subject to a mortgage. His criminal record is minimal.

Abdulrahman’s garage is set up as a barber shop. A search of the garage pursuant to a warrant uncovered several rifles (including a military-style assault rifle), ammunition, and a silencer inside a length of PVC pipe. Additional rifles and a shotgun were found inside the house. Some of the weapons had been reported stolen. Abdulrahman does not have a permit to possess firearms.

Abdulrahman was initially granted conditional bail. After the Crown made a detention application, bail was revoked. Abdulrahman then made a release application.

Abdulrahman maintained that he did not use the garage regularly and, in compliance with his doctor’s advice, had not been working as a barber. Evidence suggested that his brother may have stored the weapons in the garage without Abdulrahman’s knowledge. Police records indicate that Abdulrahman’s brother has links to the Comanchero Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang and that he tried to disrupt the search of the garage.

Abdulrahman contended that his ties to the community, including his family, his property ownership, and his employment made him an unlikely candidate to flee if he were released on bail. His siblings all live in Sydney and he has no close relatives outside of Australia. While he was out on bail pending a detention hearing, he made no attempt to flee.

Abdulrahman argued that any flight risk could be managed with appropriate bail conditions, including the use of electronic monitoring, imposition of a curfew, and a requirement to report to the police daily. Abdulrahman also pointed out that he has never inflicted serious injury upon another person and is therefore not a risk to the public.

The court’s decision

The CCA agreed that Abdulrahman is not a flight risk. His ties to the community and the risk of serious financial harm to his family if he were to flee after posting substantial cash bail were (together with the conditions noted above) sufficient to assure that Abdulrahman would appear in court if released.

On the other hand, the CCA found that the allegations against Abdulrahman are serious and that the Crown presented strong proof that Abdulrahman possessed the weapons found in his garage and home. The pipe in which the firearms were concealed was in plain sight and the guns inside the home were found inside a cupboard in Abdulrahman’s laundry room. While a jury might ultimately harbor a doubt as to Abdulrahman’s knowledge of the firearms, a jury could easily find that Abdulrahman could not have been unaware that the guns were in his home.

The CCA noted that shootings in Western Sydney have become commonplace and that an assault rifle is capable of inflicting rapid and massive damage. The number of weapons suggests that their owner planned to engage in significant criminal behaviour. The CCA determined that the risk to the public posed by Abdulrahman’s release pending trial would be unacceptable. It therefore denied his release application.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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