Case against the Windang gunman’s terrorist collapses
After a court threw out a crucial piece of evidence, the terror case against a Wollongong man who shot a spray of bullets into the air and kidnapped two others collapsed.
Simon Fleming, 41, was found not guilty of committing a terrorist act on Tuesday after having been on trial in the NSW Supreme Court for the previous four weeks.
Leah Rowan and Aaron Kernaghan, members of his defense team, have steadfastly argued that Mr. Fleming was suffering from a major mental illness when he equipped himself with a rifle, a toy pistol, and a fake bomb on Windang’s main street in November 2021.
After many days of litigation between Mr. Fleming’s legal team and the Crown prosecution, Justice Helen Wilson on Tuesday ordered the jury to find Mr. Fleming not guilty of the severe charge.
The Crown prosecution eventually acknowledged there was insufficient evidence to prove the case when she determined that the testimony of one expert witness was inadmissible.
A little while later, the jury foreman announced that the lone allegation of terrorism was dismissed.
The jury was then released, and the remaining 11 charges—including shooting a gun in a way that may harm someone, taking or detaining someone for personal benefit, having a weapon without a permit, and having a banned firearm—will be handled on the basis of mental health.
It indicates that while the offenses were established, Mr. Fleming was declared not legally accountable due to mental health issues.
When Mr. Fleming was apprehended during an armed standoff with police, the prosecution claimed that he was driven by right-wing ideology after police found a manifesto called The Fuse on a USB.
There was little disagreement over the facts, but Mr. Fleming’s legal team claimed that his knowledge of the events was impacted since he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.
Two physicians had given Mr. Fleming a schizophrenia diagnosis, the court was informed.
Justice Wilson to the jury, “There is no question that Mr. Fleming was significantly mentally ill on that day.
Mr. Fleming must be transported to the Long Bay jail’s mental health unit, under Justice Wilson’s order.
The court was informed that Mr. Fleming left his residence in Wollongong’s south on the morning of November 28, 2021, dressed in all black, with a fake bomb and two guns—a rifle and a gel blaster.
He allegedly fired several shots into the air, one of which penetrated a Colorbond roof 2.8 kilometers distant, as well as into a passing car.
Additionally, he held two others hostage in a diving shop for an hour before releasing both guys and turning himself in to authorities.
In the event, no one was hurt.
Mr. Fleming had previously been sent to a psychiatrist and given antipsychotic medication, the court was informed.
He admitted to police officers that he had taken the last of his medications two days earlier and that by the next morning, he was experiencing opiate withdrawal symptoms.
Between leaving his house at 9 a.m. and being arrested approximately 90 minutes later, he said he could only recall “flashes” to the police.
He called the manifesto a “f***ing stupid rant” when questioned by the police about it. He denied trying to harm anybody and saying “I’m a terrorist” to his two captives.
In the police interview that was shown to the jury earlier this month, he said, “I didn’t declare ‘I’m a terrorist.
Considering that I believe they are more organized than I am. Just some d**khead with a gun, that’s all I am.
He claimed to have planned the incident for years and had intended to place a placard reading “Australia for a Republic” next to the fake bomb on the road.
He admitted to authorities that he had forgotten the sign when he had left his house.
He also claimed that after seeing a face in the clouds on New Year’s Eve of 2018 he had been “told by God” to lead the push for Australia to become a republic.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kernaghan said outside of court that he would petition for Mr. Fleming to be given expenses for his defense.
The only difference, according to Mr. Kernaghan, has been persuading the Crown prosecution, and that has been difficult. “There has been no surprise that Mr. Fleming is someone who has suffered from a mental health impairment,” he said.
He criticized the prosecution’s choice to seek the terror allegation, stating that Mr. Fleming had been residing in the neighborhood for a considerable amount of time with a major mental health issue.
To charge someone with terrorism is a severe matter, according to Mr. Kernaghan.
“It’s one of the most serious accusations you can face.
And I’d like to assume that if the government were to bring such a case against a citizen in our nation, they would do so with unquestionable proof, not with the expert’s judgment supported by a footnote citing a podcast from the New York Times.
That is insufficient.
The case will go back to court the following week.