Monis bail decision still an unknown

The picture emerging from the Sydney siege inquest is that efforts to have bail revoked for Man Haron Monis could have been stronger in the year before the tragedy.

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Whether that would have made a difference isn’t clear.

A year before he took 18 people hostage at gunpoint in the Lindt cafe, Monis was released on bail after being charged with two counts of being an accessory to the murder of his former wife.

Homicide detectives were angry that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) solicitor handling the case had told the court there was no weighting either way on the question of Monis’s bail, rather than insisting he satisfy an “exceptional circumstances” test to gain his freedom.

Some of Australia’s leading experts on bail matters told the inquest on Tuesday that even if the solicitor had set a higher bar, it may not have made a difference.

The panel of bail experts, comprising accomplished legal practitioner Ian Temby QC and criminal law specialists Jane Sanders and Rebekah Rodger, were more critical of the actions of a second DPP solicitor who, two months before the siege, decided that Monis’s bail should not be contested.

Monis faced Penrith Local Court on October 10, 2014, already facing the accessory to murder charges and three counts of serious sexual assault.

Sex crime squad detectives laid a further 37 sexual assault charges in court that day.

The evening before, the DPP prosecutor, who cannot be named, had agreed with Monis’s lawyer that there would be no contest on the issue of bail.

That decision, the bail panel told the inquest, effectively took away the magistrate’s chance to decide whether Monis should be remanded in custody.

The DPP solicitor faced the inquest last week and told the coroner he acted within his powers in making the agreement.

The panel also said police could have acted differently by arresting Monis on the 37 new sexual offences rather than issuing Court Attendance Notices (CANs).

Detective Senior Constable Denise Vavayis, of the Sex Crime Squad, told the inquest previously she believed any arrest of Monis would have been unlawful because he had complied with bail conditions.

The inquest continues on Wednesday with an examination of the gun Monis used.