Australia Nurse who pleaded guilty to counter-terror laws, not a 'threat' court told

10:30  14 may  2021
10:30  14 may  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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A Melbourne nurse and father-of-five who pleaded guilty to breaching counter-terror laws has made a plea for mercy, after admitting to helping anti-government Chechen militants in Syria in 2014.

Adam Brookman, 45, pleaded guilty last month to a single foreign incursion charge, which carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years.

Today, he faced Victoria’s Supreme Court for a pre-sentence hearing where his lawyer, Peter Morrissey SC, told Justice Jane Dixon his client was “not a threat to the Australian public.”

“His beliefs have never led him to a bloodthirsty attack on innocent Australian civilians.”

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“Unlike many, he's otherwise a peaceful person, a nurse.”

The court heard Brookman grew up in a non-practicing Christian household in Ballarat, in Victoria's west, before embracing Islam after his mother remarried and moved to Morocco.

Brookman has been in custody for almost six years, after being arrested by federal police upon his arrival back in Australia from Turkey in 2015.

The court heard that while in Syria, Brookman joined Chechen and North Caucasian fighters, receiving weapons training and acting as a medic and armed guard.

The technical charge to which he has pleaded guilty is of performing services in support or promotion of the commission of an offence under foreign incursion laws.

His exploits were documented extensively on social media, where Brookman made regular posts to Facebook and Instagram under a pseudonym, and shared images of firearms, reconnaissance missions and injured fighters.

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“Driving on roads that look like Swiss cheese while being shot at by fighter jets … My faith has never felt so high, my faith has never felt so good,” one post read.

Brookman 'unfit' for military efforts, court told

Prosecutor Nicholas Robinson QC said that the posts demonstrated Brookman’s “adherence to extremist ideology.”

Newspaper reports at the time of Brookman’s arrest claimed he had been forced to join Islamic State after being injured in an air strike, but the charge he has since admitted to does not link him to being a member or supporter of Islamic State.

Defence lawyers stressed in court that Brookman had publicly condemned Islamic State, including in a statement to journalist Nick McKenzie.

Mr Morrissey SC argued that Brookman travelled to Syria with the primary goal of working as a nurse, where his skills were best suited for medical purposes, while also "uniquely unfit to help any military efforts".

“He was of zilch value in the battlefield,” Mr Morrissey said.

Wearing a grey jumper with a long grey beard, Brookman sat motionless and expressionless throughout the proceedings.

His parents and brother were in attendance at the hearing, but the court heard his wife and children were no longer in contact.

“He’s done almost six years of real time in remand, in circumstances astoundingly trying for him,” Mr Morrissey said.

“Time has passed. He’s learned a great deal — he’s lost a great deal.”

Brookman will be sentenced at a later date.

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This is interesting!