Date of Judgment: 20 November 2020
Court (e.g. District Court of NSW; Court of Appeal – Victoria): Supreme Court of Victoria
Partner Agency: Australian Federal Police
Summary of charges:
Mr Phillip Galea was charged with one count of doing acts in preparation for, or planning a terrorist act, contrary to s101.6 of the Criminal Code (Cth); and one count of attempting to collect or make a document likely to facilitate a terrorist act contrary to ss11.1 and 101.5 of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) commenced an investigation of Mr Galea in January 2016 following concerns he was preparing or planning to carry out acts of violence in support of his radical right-wing beliefs. In August 2016, the JCTT executed a search warrant on Mr Galea’s residence and he was subsequently charged with terrorism offences.
Following a contested committal hearing in September 2018, Mr Galea was committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria on two terrorism offences. Mr Galea’s trial commenced on 14 October 2019 before Justice Hollingworth. On 5 December 2019, after a trial lasting some seven weeks, the jury found Mr Galea guilty of both charges.
A plea hearings took place on 28 July and 19 August 2020. On 20 November 2020, Mr Galea was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years imprisonment.
The first charge related to Mr Galea’s conduct in preparation for, or planning, to attack sites or persons associated with left-wing ideology, including a socialist centre and a trade union hall. The preparatory acts undertaken by Mr Galea included researching methods of making explosive devices, conducting reconnaissance of the locations and attempting to recruit others to assist him in these endeavours. His conduct spanned several months and continued despite his own suspicion of law enforcement surveillance upon him. In sentencing Mr Galea for this offence, the sentencing judge found Mr Galea’s offending to be a low to mid-range example of this offence, noting that the acts Mr Galea planned to carry out were only of a kind likely to cause damage to buildings rather than people.
The second charge related to Mr Galea’s conduct in attempting to make a document called The Patriot’s Cookbook. Mr Galea intended this document would expound his anti-leftist political or ideological views and would contain information about matters such as making and using bombs and other explosive devices, torturing people and waging war against Muslims and ‘lefties’. The Cookbook was something which, when completed, Mr Galea intended to distribute to people who shared his views to equip and encourage them to go out commit violent acts against common enemies. In sentencing Mr Galea for this offence, the sentencing judge found Mr Galea’s offending to be a moderately serious example of the offence, noting this document contained information which aimed to help like-minded people undertake acts of violence.
With respect to first offence of do acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act, Mr Galea was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. With respect to the second offence of make a document likely to facilitate a terrorist act, Mr Galea was sentenced to six years imprisonment. The sentencing judge ordered that two years of the sentence imposed on the second count be accumulated on the sentence imposed on the first count. This accumulation was ordered to reflect the fact that the second charge involved separate and discrete conduct. As a result, a total effective sentence imposed was one of 12 years imprisonment. The Court fixed a non-parole period of nine years.
In sentencing Mr Galea, the sentencing judge stressed the importance of punishment, denunciation and general deterrence, noting that Mr Galea committed these offences intending to intimidate sections of the public and the government. The Court found that Mr Galea had aligned himself with a number of extremist groups, aligning himself with the most militant factions he could find. In addition to his plans for a specific terrorist attack, Mr Galea also sought to create a document that would enable other extremists to follow in his footsteps. The Court noted that Mr Galea had demonstrated no remorse for his crimes and that a sentence of imprisonment was required which would deter Mr Galea from further offending, as well as protect the community.