Zionist Who Planted Bomb on Pro-Palestinian’s Vehicle Could Soon be Released

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Zionist Who Planted Bomb on Pro-Palestinian’s Vehicle Could Soon be Released

A man who left a homemade bomb on a ute in the driveway of a Botany home in January, with a note attached threatening reprisal if the resident did not remove a Palestinian flag hanging out the front of his house in support of the people of Gaza, has received quite a light sentence.

Theo, the Botany resident, can’t understand why the crime wasn’t deemed a terrorist act, as it has all the requirements under federal law for a terrorism offence: it involved a Zionist man threatening harm towards a member of the public, which was motivated by his political support of Israeli military action in Gaza.

Despite this the bombmaker, David Wise, was not charged with a terrorism offence, Indeed, after the bomb squad determined that the inactive explosive device he left at Theo’s home was safe, NSW police then handed the investigation to a constable, instead of the terrorism unit, to the disbelief of many.

The makeshift explosive device consisted of a jerry can, partially filled with petrol, with a rag hanging out. Bolts were strapped to the side of the device, while a lighter was attached to it, so anyone could have lit the fuse. And a note attached read: “Enough! Take down flag! One chance!!!”.

Wise was eventually arrested in March, despite police having been aware for some time that he’d appeared at Theo’s property early on spouting Zionist rhetoric in response to the man’s pro-Palestinian display in front of his residence.

Again, to the dismay of many, Wise was then charged with send article to cause alarm, two counts of stalk/intimate, use carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, and unlawfully enter inclosed land. And the Mascot construction boss then pleaded guilty early on to the charges.

And the final point of contention for Theo, and those supporting him since his life was threatened in this manner, is that following the drastic downplaying of the crime by authorities, Wise was then sentenced to 12 months prison last week, with non-parole set at just 3 months.

A bias in application

To spell out the issue with the nonterror charging of what appears to many to be a terror act is that right now Israel is perpetrating a genocide upon the Palestinians of Gaza, and Canberra is allied with Tel Aviv, so it’s considered the dismissal of this incident as a minor crime is too politically motivated.

In stark contrast to the approach to Wise’s offence, that taken to a Muslim teenager who stabbed a priest nonfatally in Wakeley in April saw police determine it a terrorist act within hours of it taking place, the terror unit was charged with its investigation, and it resulted in six more teens arrested.

The Arab boy who stabbed a priest, and several of his friends who committed no violent or threatening crime whatsoever, have all been charged with terror offences carrying life, while, as Wise was dealt with in the lower court, all his offences carried maximums of two years prison time.

And as the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) points out, since the 2001 9/11 attacks in New York resulted in terror crimes being enacted in local domestic law, there’s been a hesitancy to apply these offences to white Australians, whereas this can’t be said for Muslim offenders.

A slight deterrent effect, perhaps

Wise’s lawyers lodged a mental health application to have his matter dismissed. Yet, this was rejected, and in the Downing Centre Local Court last week, Magistrate Megan Greenwood sentenced him to at least three months in prison over offending that she considered to be “serious”.

The defence also put it to the court that its client had extensive mental health issues, which included citing psychiatric reports of Wise having had suicidal thoughts in the past, as well as outlining that the offender only had a “dream-like memory of planting the bomb”.

But herein lies another problem with the nonterror designation in Wise’s case and the terror designation when it comes to the teenager’s crime, and that is, as AMAN explains, once a crime is deemed terrorism, lawyers can no longer argue mental health as a contributing factor of a crime.

So, if Wise’s crime was designated terrorism, there is no way his defence team could have put his mental health issues to the court, whereas the young boy who decided to stab a priest won’t have that defence open to him, and it’s very unlikely he’ll get a sentence anywhere near as light as Wise’s.

But for Theo, the real issue is that a man in his forties was able to come onto his property and leave an explosive device to threaten his life and instead of this being taken seriously, it’s been dismissed. And this has not only led to his traumatisation, but it’s left others in the community feeling unsafe.

And as Theo told Sydney Criminal Lawyers in late March, what he’s ultimately concerned about in terms of the way the authorities handled his case is that “it creates tacit permission to many other people that have been making threats and attacks towards Palestinians and their supporters”.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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