Australia’s first convicted would-be terrorist, now housed in minimum security, will remain behind bars after a court threw out a challenge to his parole refusal.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has twice refused to parole Faheem Khalid Lodhi, who was jailed in 2006 for 20 years with a non-parole period of 15 years for plotting to bomb the national electricity grid and three army bases.
The then 37-year-old Pakistani-born architect, arrested in 2004, denied at trial seeking prices for chemicals, and possessing maps and bomb-making instructions.
His lawyer told the Federal Court in August that since being first refused parole in 2019, Lodhi had admitted his guilt, disavowed his ‘violent extremist ideology’ and was now classed as a minimum-security prisoner.
Faheem Khalid Lodhi (pictured in 2006) was jailed in 2006 for 20 years with a non-parole period of 15 years for plotting to bomb the national electricity grid and three army bases
She argued the April 2020 decision to refuse parole was one ‘no reasonable person’ would make given Lodhi’s ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Justice Robert Bromwich on Monday threw out the judicial review application, saying no ‘legal unreasonableness’ had been shown in Mr Porter’s decision.
Mr Porter’s short written reasons, sent to Lodhi in April, explained clearly enough why parole was not thought appropriate, the judge said.
Those reasons centred on concerns for community safety in the absence of Lodhi undergoing any day-leave that could assess the prospects of him complying with parole conditions.
Lodhi (pictured) has had his parole refused twice by the Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter
Reasonable minds could differ as to what the outcome for parole should be, the judge said.
‘Even though the points made on behalf of Mr Lodhi … constituted compelling arguments in favour of a contrary conclusion, and may well have found traction in a merits review forum, they do not establish legal unreasonableness,’ the judge said.
‘They do not establish that the Attorney-General’s decision is outside the range of permissible outcomes.’
The attorney General will need to consider Lodhi’s custody status before April 14, 2021.
Lodhi’s lawyer argued he had accepted his guilt and disavowed his ‘extremist ideologies’