CDPP successfully prosecutes right-wing extremist following Operation Drumtochty
Wade Homewood engaged in terrorism offences for almost 3 years, motivated by right wing extremism. He was investigated, arrested and charged with terrorism offences contrary to s80.2C(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), and a firearms offence contrary to s40(1) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).
On 8 July 2022 Mr Homewood entered an early guilty plea in the Local Court and was subsequently sentenced on 3 February 2023 in the District Court of New South Wales to 2 years and 7 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year and 11 months for terrorism offences. A wholly concurrent fixed-term sentence of 8 months was imposed for the firearms offence for failing to store ammunition in an approved storage space.
Mr Homewood appealed to the New South Wales Criminal Court of Appeal and was subsequently resentenced to 2 years and 4 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year and 9 months for the terrorism offence. A concurrent fixed-term sentence of 5 months’ imprisonment was ordered for the firearms offence.
Over a period of 2 years and 7 months between 2019 and 2021, Mr Homewood was subject to an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) known as Operation Drumtochty. Investigators from the Joint Counter-Terrorism Taskforce gathered evidence of Mr Homewood’s activity on multiple online platforms where he advocated acts of serious violence, including the mass murder of persons of colour and of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, the assassination of certain Australian government leaders and the lionising of right-wing perpetrators of racially motivated mass killings.
On 23 November 2021, the AFP executed a search warrant at the rural property where Mr Homewood resided with his parents. Upon entry, police found 8 firearms (5 bolt action shotguns, 2 break action shotguns, and a .22 calibre pump action rifle along with 8,312 rounds of ammunition. Various publications associated with right-wing extremism were also found in Mr Homewood’s bedroom, including a copy of Mein Kampf, along with manuals detailing instructions on how to make improvised explosive devices and homemade firearms.
Mr Homewood was subsequently charged by the AFP who referred the matter to the CDPP for prosecution.
Working in collaboration with the AFP, the CDPP successfully prosecuted the matter. This was only the fifth prosecution of an offence contrary to s80.2C of the Criminal Code and the third involving right-wing extremist ideology.
Summary of charges:
The terrorism offence contrary to s80.2C(1) of the Criminal Code involved Mr Homewood intentionally advocating the doing of a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence, and being reckless as to whether another person will engage in a terrorist act or commit a terrorism offence. The maximum penalty for that offence is 5 years’ imprisonment.
In relation to the firearms offence, while Mr Homewood was the holder of an ammunition license, contrary to s40(1) of the Firearms Act he did not have approved storage for the 8,312 rounds of assorted calibre ammunition found in his bedroom. The maximum penalty for that offence is 12 months imprisonment and / or 20 penalty units.
While Mr Homewood’s defence counsel had tendered a psychiatric report detailing his rejection of violence and terrorism of any form, the NSW District Court found, in the absence of sworn evidence, these explanations to be entirely inconsistent with his offending. The Court was not satisfied that Mr Homewood was remorseful or genuinely contrite in relation to either offence, consequently his prospects for rehabilitation were regarded as poor.
After applying a 25% discount for Mr Homewood’s early plea of guilt he was sentenced to the following:
- 2 years and 7 months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of one year and 11 months for advocating terrorism contrary to s80.2C of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
- A wholly concurrent fixed-term sentence of 8 months was imposed for the offence of failing to properly store ammunition in an approved storage space contrary to s40(1) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).
The CDPP argued that the objective seriousness of Mr Homewood’s offending was in the mid-range of seriousness, noting the length of time that the offending occurred and the nature of the communications themselves warranted no other sentence than a term of full-time imprisonment.
The CDPP’s submission was consistent with the Court’s decision, noting that community safety and general deterrence should be of paramount consideration in determining the sentencing outcome.
Mr Homewood’s defence counsel submitted to the New South Wales Criminal Court of Appeal that the firearms sentence was manifestly excessive and that the sentencing judge erred in declining to impose an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO) to be served in the community in relation to the terrorism offence.
The Court accepted the defence counsel’s submission that the sentence imposed for the firearms offence was manifestly excessive. It ruled that 8 months’ imprisonment was irreconcilable with the sentencing judge’s finding that the level of objective seriousness was not in the worst category. As such, deducting 25% for Mr Homewood’s early guilty plea should not have been calculated based on the 12 months’ maximum penalty.
The Court agreed however with the CDPP’s position that any such term to be served in the community was not an available option for a terrorism offence contrary to s80.2C of the Criminal Code.
Of note, following the notice of appeal submitted to the New South Wales Criminal Court of Appeal, by Mr Homewood’s defence counsel, the sentencing judge – whose authority in the matter had come to an end – erred by subsequently amending Mr Homewood’s original sentence, with a separate order in lieu of the non-parole period for the terrorism advocacy offence.
The Court found the sentencing judge had erred by acting outside of the statutory and common law principles in making the amendment after Mr Homewood’s judgement had been handed down.
The CDPP submitted that given the objective seriousness of Mr Homewood’s offending, other than to resentence to correct the sentencing judge’s error, no lesser sentence is warranted in law.
The Criminal Court of Appeal gave consideration to Mr Homewood’s subjective characteristics noting the support he has from his family and that together with therapy, these factors are likely to be central to his prospects of rehabilitation and overcoming his deep social isolation.
While the CDPP argued that no lesser sentence was warranted, the Criminal Court of Appeal disagreed and resentenced Mr Homewood to 2 years and 4 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year and 9 months for the terrorism offence and a wholly concurrent 5 months’ imprisonment for the firearms offence.
In consideration of general deterrence, specific deterrence and the need to protect the community at the forefront, consistent with the CDPP’s submissions, both the District Court and the Criminal Court of Appeal found that no sentence other than full-time imprisonment as appropriate.
The sentencing judgement R v Homewood  NSWDC
The appeal judgment Homewood v R –  NSWCCA 159