Abdullah Chaarani: Terrorist who plotted Christmas Day attack has sentence reduced on appeal

A convicted terrorist has had his sentence slashed by six years after a panel of judges found it was “excessive”.

Abdullah Chaarani, 33, returned before the Court of Appeal on Monday, showing little reaction as he learnt his appeal was upheld.

The convicted ISIS adherent was jailed in 2019 for 38 years following two trials in Victoria’s Supreme Court.

He was sentenced to 22 years for twice firebombing a Shia mosque – the Imam Ali Islamic Centre in Fawkner – in November and December 2016.

At the time, the court was told the arson was carried out due to his “hatred” of Shia Muslims and a desire to intimidate practitioners of that faith.

The first fire failed to take hold but the second destroyed the building, causing an estimated $1.5m in damage.

Chaarani’s head sentence was extended by 16 years after a separate trial convicted him of planning a terror attack at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Christmas Day.

Along with three others, Chaarani plotted a “mass slaughter” with knives, firearms and improvised explosive devices.

At the trials, the Supreme Court was told Chaarani and his co-offenders had pledged themselves to the “extreme and abhorrent ideology” of ISIS and were motivated by “hatred, intolerance, malevolence, and misguided piety”.

During the appeal, Chaarani’s barrister, Dermott Dann KC, argued the judge had failed to take into account his client’s public renunciation of his support of ISIS and family hardship.

The court was told one of Chaarani’s co-offenders, Ahmed Mohamed, 31, had his sentence reduced by six years last year after the Court of Appeal found his second sentence was “manifestly excessive”.

Handing down their judgment, Justices Karin Emerton, Richard Niall and Stephen Kaye found there was “very little to distinguish” between the two cases.

They reduced the cumulation of the Federation Square plot sentence from 16 to 10 years – leading to a new total effective sentence of 32 years.

“This reduction in the period of cumulation and the total effective sentence in no way diminishes the seriousness of the applicant’s offending, particularly the Federation Square offending,” they wrote.

“Had the acts that were planned been carried to fruition, many innocent people would have been killed or seriously maimed.

“The applicant must, and will, serve a very long period of imprisonment for his offending.”

Chaarani will be eligible for parole in early 2042.

Originally published as Abdullah Chaarani: Terrorist who plotted Christmas Day attack has sentence reduced on appeal