Mark Tedeschi, QC, NSW Prosecutor
by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
It has been announced that Justice Peter Johnson of the new South Wales Supreme Court has found Amirah Droudis guilty of the murder of Man Haron Monis’s ex-wife. This news came as a surprise to me as I thought there was so little evidence against her that the judge would rule “not guilty.”
I do not have a copy of His Honor’s ruling. An ABC News journalist, Candace Sutton, noted the following:
“Justice Peter Johnson said he was satisfied that Monis planned the murder and Droudis carried it out. He rejected suggestions Monis may have paid someone else to kill his ex-wife, saying he did not have the financial means… ”
“Johnson said ‘The killing involved a frenzied knife attack with multiple stab wounds being inflicted to the body of the victim, followed by the gratuitous use of fire…. This crime had the hallmarks of a frenzied attack by an angry amateur killer.’
“Justice Johnson also said while Monis had previously asked members of the Rebels bikie gang to murder his ex-wife, his requests were not taken seriously and he did not have the money to pay for a professional killing.
“Justice Johnson said Droudis was ‘enthralled’ by Monis and ‘adopted uncritically Monis’ view of the world with its extreme and perverse features….’ He said Monis took advantage of [Droudis’] willingness to act at his behest.” — End of ABC Quote.
The Elements of a Crime
By law, conviction for a crime should include proof of two factors: actus reus and mens rea. That actus reus means the crime must have actually been committed. The mens rea means the person must have had the crime in mind.
To judge mens rea , one asks if the person had an intention to perform the act, and was aware that it was wrong. The requirement of mens rea is not met if the deed was done by accident, or done while in a trance, or under a complete misunderstanding of what was going on.
In presenting their cases, prosecutors typically want to adduce such evidence as eyewitnesses, the weapon, a motive, and any past behavior or remarks by the accused that suggest a plan to commit the crime.
The prosecutor may also use police forensic evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, handwriting analysis, and images from surveillance cameras. And they can call on expert witnesses to explain things.
In Amirah Droudis’ case, no weapon was found, no fingerprints or DNA were found, and no video of the killing. There was an eyewitness to the killing, but that witness did not identify Amirah as the person he saw.
Thus if Ms Droudis is to be nominated, it will have to depend on some sort of “reasoning” about the case. That is, since no one identified Amirah, one needs to think WHY it is likely that it were she who did it.
Theoretically it could have been any person within a height range of, say, five foot 3 to five foot ten. The person was garbed-up in Muslim women’s clothing. Someone heard the voice but I don’t know if he was asked if the killer had an Aussie accent or sounded like a foreigner.
The Prosecution’s Case
I was not in the courtroom when the “Mr Crown” gave his closing address, so must rely on the media here. Melanie Kembrey reported it in the Sydney Morning Herald of September 29, 2016, and I now quote her.
I will number the notions that Kembrey said were put forth by the Prosecutor, Mr Tedeschi.
- Monis “saw himself as the instrument of God…. He had the grandiose delusion of a narcissist that his actions were God’s actions and he had the sanction of God to commit this murder.”
- “His so-called love for [Amirah] was completely based on what he could get out of her. This is the sort of man that Man Haron Monis was. He was quite clearly the kind of man who was perfectly prepared to put this woman at risk of her life, at risk of being caught and at risk of paying the penalty for this murder.”
- Mr Tedeschi said Monis had intended for it to appear that his ex-wife was murdered when she interrupted a break-and-enter, but the “ferocious attack” instead took place on the landing outside his rented apartment.
- Regarding a neighbour who did not identify Ms Droudis in a photographic line-up, Mr Tedeschi said he had chosen a woman who had a “significant degree of similarity” to her.
- Monis and Ms Droudis also [blamed] other people for the murder when they thought they were being recorded by police “It is evidence of a joint policy by both Monis and Droudis to present their case on the record and to divert suspicion away from themselves” Mr Tedeschi said. “He was the puppet master pulling the strings during these contrived and often ridiculous conversations.”
- Monis forged an elaborate alibi for himself at the time of the murder — including staging a car crash and going to hospital — but had not included Droudis because he knew she would be murdering his ex-wife.
My Analysis of the Prosecution Case
Let me point out what seems to me to be irregularities in the prosecution’s case. First I should say that Tedeschi was never trying to show that Amirah was a murderer by nature. He leaned his narrative on what all Australians were supposed to understand by this time about Monis.
That is: Monis was a terrible person. He had been arrested for two other things besides his alleged part in this murder. First, the postal crime of sending harassing letters to families of soldiers. He was actually convicted of that so it’s not open for dispute. (He paid his penalty: 300 hours of community service.)
The police charge that he sexually assaulted his clients came up before his death. I do not recall his denying it, but since we never saw the facts or heard any defense I don’t think it is too reliable. How will we ever find out the details? We won’t.
There is also the claim that he conned women to give him money. As far as I could tell, Detective Melanie Staples was reading to us from her investigations, whatever that means. I don’t think any material came before the judge from which he could gauge the validity of those allegations.
Sure, the sexual interference with his clients sounds like something a cad would do, but DID he do it? I personally have the impression of Monis being a cad. But that entirely is from hearing these statements in court. I suppose I should be more skeptical.
The Brainwashing of Amirah
In regard to Amirah’s being coerced by Monis to commit the killing of his ex-wife, I don’t think anything worthwhile was presented as evidence during the trial.
The main thing I would like to see on that score is first-person testimony by Amirah as to how she was brainwashed. Since she opted to use her right not to incriminate herself, however, the court could not ask her any direct questions.
I did watch videos of her daughter and mother, and neither of them implied in any way that Ms Droudis had been under coercion by Monis or was “enthralled” by him.
Granted the old lady, Yaya, was video’d months before the siege, so we can’t say she was commenting on that behavior. She did express anger towards Monis, in general, but then isn’t it very common for a mother-in-law to have complaints?
So did Amirah have any friends who could have spoken up for her innocence by saying she appeared brainwashed? Apparently not. None were called to testify!
The Confusion Caused by the “Double Defense”
We have a problem here. Mr Mark Ierace, SC, the Public Defender, never tried to say “She definitely didn’t do it.” In retrospect I think that is what he should have said. Make the other side prove that she was indeed the killer. If they can’t prove it, she goes free, right?
Instead, both prosecutor and defender appear to me to have collaborated on the idea of Amirah having done the deed, but under coercion. This would normally mean that all attention would switch to that issue and it would require (I think) that Amirah be examined, off stage, by the relevant psychology expert.
As noted above, in Item 3 of the quotes from prosecutor’s summing up, Tedeschi spoke of Monis as having arranged the details of the murder. “Monis had intended for it to appear that his ex-wife was murdered when she interrupted a break-and-enter.”
Again, per item 6: “Monis forged an elaborate alibi for himself at the time of the murder — including staging a car crash and going to hospital — but had not included Droudis because he knew she would be murdering his ex-wife.”
Such remarks are made off the cuff. Tedeschi did not seem to feel obliged to prove that Monis did what he, the prosecutor, claims he did. And indeed that is true – a prosecutor only prosecutes the accused, not a dead person or any other third party.
Thanks to this approach, much was said about Monis that did not seem to call for evidence. I am not sure what the “position” was as to Detective Melanie Staples investigating such things as Monis’ attempt to join an outlaw bikies gang.
It seemed that she just wanted to add to the story that was being used by the prosecutor (and the defense, as I noted), that Monis railroaded his partner into doing this or that.
Note that if she really waned to get information from the bikies who “don’t give statements,” she could have asked the prosecutor – or defense – to subpoena that person. Without the bikie’s statement why should we place any credence in what he merely said to Melanie?
It was also Ms Staples that gave us the seedy background of Monis having cheated or fooled Females A through M. Monis gave at least one diamond ring, implying he would become the woman’s fiancé while he was in fact in a defacto marriage with Amirah.
Again I question court procedure (and I admit I’m not well versed in criminal law). Here we have a bunch of stories of Monis’ crappiness as a human being. The giving of a diamond does not prove that he had a need to kill Noleen. So what does it prove? It just gives a desire to mistrust him on any issue.
I consider that unfair to us. It muddles our thinking.
Now to the matter of Monis’ having stolen maybe $200,000. from a travel agency that he ran in Iran. The report of that, in the files of the Lindt Café Inquest, seem to come from the Iranian government. But on closer inspection, it came from a former police official in Iran, hence it’s a private statement. I don’t think it was said under penalty of perjury.
The So-Called Religious Element
In convicting Ms Droudis this month, Justice Peter Johnson said that Amirah had “adopted uncritically Monis’ view of the world with its extreme and perverse features….”
Do we have any idea what Monis’ view of the world was? I have been researching the siege event for 5 months and I can say I haven’t the slightest idea what his view of the world was. I am confident it was not religious, in the sense of the way a God-fearing person views the world.
There is also much to suggest that he used “Islam” as a way of playing some sort of political game. I cannot believe he wrote the letters to the parents of soldiers from the depths of his “belief system.”
I actually share Monis’ (alleged) desire to stop Australia from warring on the unarmed people of the Middle East. I know the way to do this is to influence the decision makers. How would those letters have accomplished that? Surely Monis knew what would come from his letter-sending – disgust with him. And why did the ABC and corporate media give him so much coverage when he carried banners and chained himself to the Downing Center? He even got major news outlets to listen to him at press conferences! Wow.
When ABC was referring to him as “Ayatollah,” did they not think to ask a leader of the Shi’ites in Australia if he was a legitimate ayatollah? It does look as if he were given special dispensations.
STOP PRESS! The BBC has reported this morning that the Oxford Dictionary has defined a new word – “post-truth” as an adjective
“relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”
Please show your objection to the post-truth behavior of this court case. It was blatantly based on using emotional appeals rather than objective facts to shape public opinion.
— Mary W Maxwell is the author of Fraud Upon the Court, hence she knows that frauds upon courts are legion.