Three Islamic extremists who planned to gun down as many Australian soldiers as possible in an attack on a Sydney army base have lost their bid to overturn their convictions and jail terms.
Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 36, Saney Edow Aweys, 30, and Nayef El Sayed, 29, had their appeals dismissed in the Victorian Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
The trio planned to go on a shooting spree at Holsworthy Army Base to advance the cause of Islam, which they believed was under attack from the West.
They were jailed for 18 years with a non-parole period of 13 and a half years in 2011.
Each of the men’s failed appeals relied on claims that sentencing judge Justice Betty King erred in her directions to the jury, and that a build-up of errors caused a miscarriage of justice.
But Justices Geoffrey Nettle, Peter Buchanan and Pamela Tate unanimously rejected the grounds of appeal.
The Crown had counter-appealed against the lenience of the sentences but that was also dismissed on Wednesday.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) criticised Justice King’s sentence as inadequate for a plot which it said could have had devastating consequences.
“Her Honour arrived at an inadequate sentence by focusing on the steps taken and giving insufficient weight to the nature of the plan which could have had devastating consequences, involving as it did a planned attack on a selected target with the intention of killing as many soldiers and others found there as possible,” the DPP submitted.
The DPP argued the offending fell into the worst class and the men should have been punished with life in jail.
But the justices said the trio could not be sentenced as if the terror plot had actually been carried out.
They also noted that extremists prepared to commit attacks which involve suicide as a form of martyrdom were unlikely be deterred by harsh prison sentences.
“In our view the sentences imposed were severe but quite properly so,” the justices said.
“We consider that the maximum penalty ought to be reserved for the worst class of case.
“The offending here, regrettably, was not of the worst class.”
The men were arrested in pre-dawn raids at homes across Melbourne in August 2009.
Their group was infiltrated by undercover police officers in February of that year.
Two other men were acquitted of involvement in the plot.