Australia’s first terrorist Faheem Lodhi loses parole court bid
The first Australian man convicted of terrorism offences has lost a Federal Court bid to be granted parole. Here’s why he will stay behind bars.
Australia’s first convicted terrorist will remain behind bars after the Federal Court dismissed his appeal against the Government’s decision to deny him parole.
Faheem Khalid Lodhi has served 16 years of a 20-year sentence but was seeking to be released on parole, claiming he is rehabilitated and has disavowed his extremist views.
However, Justice Robert Bromwich on Monday dismissed his application and ordered him to pay the Government’s costs.
The Pakistan-born former Lakemba architect was in 2006 convicted of plotting to target the nation’s energy grid and military bases but has since claimed that he was misled and has asked for forgiveness.
He has twice been denied by Attorney-General Christian Porter since becoming eligible for parole in April last year.
Because Lodhi was found guilty of terrorism offences, Mr Porter must find that there are “exceptional circumstances” for him to be paroled.
Lawyers for Lodhi challenged the Government’s decision on four grounds; however, Justice Bromwich found their appeal failed on all of them.
Justice Bromwich agreed with the Attorney-General’s argument that there were concerns Lodhi would have problems integrating back into society after more than 16 years in prison.
“In my view it was reasonably open to the Attorney-General … to reason that someone who has been in prison for a decade-and-a-half is likely to encounter difficulties in re-adapting to life in the community, which may impede a successful transition from one to the other,” Justice Bromwich said.
Mr Porter denied Lodhi parole, citing recommendation from Corrective Services NSW that he was not yet ready to be released and the Australian Federal Police that he posed a danger to the community.
During a hearing earlier in the year, Lodhi submitted a handwritten letter to the court in which he confessed he was “completely wrong” and “I misunderstood my religion completely.”
His lawyers argued he was no longer a threat to the community having distanced himself from previously held extremist beliefs.
They also said he had become a model prisoner, having progressed from being a high-risk inmate at Goulburn Supermax to being housed in a minimum security facility at Wellington Correctional Centre.
However, Justice Bromwich noted that Lodhi had yet to progress to a C3 minimum security classification, which would allow him to engage in pre-release leave from prison.
“As all four grounds of review have failed, the further amended originating application must be dismissed,” Justice Bromwich said.
“There is no reason why costs should not follow the event, and accordingly, Mr Lodhi must pay the Attorney-General’s costs as assessed or agreed.”