|Posted on November 4, 2016 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
Amirah Droudis, the girlfriend of Lindt siege gunman Man Haron Monis and formerly named Anastasia Droudis, was yesterday convicted (ie found guilty) of the murder of the ex-wife of Monis.
The written judgment of Justice Johnson, delivered yesterday after a judge-only trial (due to adverse pre-trial media publicity), is particularly long and detailed. It goes into significant aspects of Monis' life story because Droudis was intimately involved in them.
The prosecution and the defence both agreed that Monis had masterminded the murder, and that the person who committed the murder was a female, due to compelling evidence of same. There was also no dispute that the person who had killed Monis' ex-wife had intended to do so. The central question for determination was whether Droudis was the woman who committed the murder at the request of Monis.
As Justice Johnson acknowledged, the case against Droudis was circumstantial. Consequently, the prosecution needed to not only establish that the inference that Droudis carried out the murder was reasonable to draw from the evidence, but also that it was also the only reasonable inference that could be drawn.
In short, the evidence that was relied on for convicting Droudis included the following:
1) A witness saw part of the attack through a peephole then (very briefly) exchanged words with the assailant, who yelled at him, and although he failed to identify Droudis using photographs supplied by police (identifying another women of similar appearance who was not involved in the murder), his accurate description of the complexion and build of Droudis was held to support the prosecution case.
2) The overwhelming evidence that Monis had organised the murder, including his attempts to organise bikies to kill his ex-wife, him taking out contents insurance weeks before the murder (which showed that he knew there was significant risk that some of his property might be damaged by the fire lit immediately after the murder that was to be carried out), the fact that the murder occurred in his Werrington apartment complex that was locked, and his 'incredible lengths to establish an alibi for himself' by filming himself at the Penrith swimming pool and staging a car accident on the afternoon of the murder.
3) Droudis' established tendency to carry out Monis' wishes, including soliciting the murder of the President-elect of the United States of America, making false complaints to the police and actively assisting Monis in contacting and attempting to contact the families of Australian soldiers killed in the line of duty.
4) The ongoing disputes Monis was having with his ex-wife concerning custody of their children and related issues.
5) The judge finding that the murder "had all the hallmarks of a frenzied attack by an angry amateur killer".
6) The evidence "that Monis and the Accused were consistently acting between August 2012 and 7 April 2013 in a manner which was intended to develop a type of family unit, where Monis’ sons referred to the Accused as their mother and with the Accused’s daughter being involved constantly in the family activities".
7) The evidence that Droudis was the only woman who was a significant part of Monis' life at the time of the murder, undermining the suggestion that some other female assailant known to Monis may have carried out the murder.
8 ) Video footage taken the day after the murder at Droudis' Croydon unit which showed Droudis acting as the mother of Monis' children, and it was obvious that the children had not been informed of their mother's death.
9) The unaccounted whereabouts and activities of Droudis between 2pm and 7pm on the afternoon of the murder.
10) Recorded conversations that Droudis had with Monis following the murder which suggested that they were constructing false alibis and trying to divert attention away from themselves by suggesting to police that Monis' ex-wife's father or male friend may have been responsible for her murder.
The only part of the judgment that may be controversial was the finding that the identification evidence assisted the prosecution, even though the chief identification witness identified the wrong person when presented with photographs of various women, and his certainty that he had identified the correct woman. Expect this to be a ground of appeal when an appeal against conviction is inevitably filed.
This is one of the last chapters of the trail of destruction caused by Monis, an Iranian refugee who came to Australia in 1996 and committed numerous unlawful and indecent acts to the nation that kindly offered him protection from the Iranian police, who wanted to prosecute him for fraud.
Finally, a question from the judgment arises from the decision to grant Monis bail in relation to the murder of his ex-wife. If Monis had been remanded in custody, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson would both still be alive today, and many others would have been saved the trauma and anguish caused by the Lindt café siege. Given the case against Monis for organising the murder of his ex-wife was so strong, he was bound to be sentenced to a long period of imprisonment and he had an antisocial personality disorder, it should have been apparent before the siege that the interests of the community demanded that Monis be denied bail. That this was not the case is an indictment on the NSW justice system for failing to protect the community at large.