Jail cut for Curtis Cheng murder offender

A man has won a jail sentence cut for his role in the murder of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng.
A man has won a jail sentence cut for his role in the murder of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng.

The man who supplied the gun used to murder NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng has had his sentence cut after an appeal which partly focused on his comment "my beard is for ISIS".

Talal Alameddine, then 25, was jailed for 17 years and eight months in 2018, with a non-parole period of 13 years and six months.

The tree lopper had pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to recklessly possessing a thing connected with a terrorist act and supplying a pistol.

He supplied Raban Alou with a loaded gun, which was then given to 15-year-old ISIS supporter Farhad Jabar to shoot Mr Cheng as he left work at Parramatta Police Headquarters in October 2015.

In a majority decision on Friday, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal allowed his sentence challenge and reduced his term to 14 years with a non-parole period of 10 years and six months.

Chief Justice Tom Bathurst and Justice Natalie Adams found the sentencing judge erred in concluding, beyond reasonable doubt, that Alameddine was sympathetic towards ISIS and this was part of his motivation to supply the gun.

The judge had referred to a constable's outline of her contact with Alameddine.

She said he was charming and flirtatious, and at first had stubble on his face and dressed in tracksuit pants and a t-shirt or a yellow high-visibility trade shirt.

But she noticed an obvious change in July 2015, when "he was wearing a traditional Islamic dress pant accompanied with a black bushy full beard".

When she asked about the facial hair, he said: "My beard is for ISIS" as he stroked it and had a slight smirk on his face.

The judge concluded the events were "reflective of a level of sympathy for a more fundamentalist view of Islam", that he maintained the view in October 2015 and it formed part of the motivation to supply the gun, which aggravated the seriousness of the offence.

But the appeal court said the judge was misled into misstating the facts as after the beard stroking incident and at the time of the gun negotiations, Alameddine was seen wearing sports clothes and not the traditional Islamic robe.

"The incident on 5 July could at least possibly be seen as an isolated incident rather than demonstrating a change of attitude on behalf of the applicant," the Chief Justice said.

"Just as the sentencing judge was unable to determine whether or not the revolver was supplied for free or financial reward, I am unable to reach the requisite degree of satisfaction that the supply was motivated by sympathy for Islamic State."

Justice Derek Price dissented, saying it was open to the sentencing judge to reach that conclusion.

In re-sentencing, the Chief Justice said the absence of the particular aggravating factor of sympathy for Islamic State does not alter the fact that the offence is serious nor alter the need for deterrence

"The terrorist offence involved the handing over of a revolver ready for immediate use in circumstances where the applicant was aware of a high degree of risk that the revolver would be used in a terrorist act which could cause death or serious injury to a member or members of the public."

Australian Associated Press