A criminal defence lawyer has been shot outside a residence in Greenacre, in what police allege was a targeted attack.
Emergency services were called to the residence at about 10.25am on Wednesday 26 July, after reports were made of shots being fired.
On arrival, police officers located the man, 31-year-old solicitor Mahmoud Abbas, who had gunshot wounds.
The police have reported that Abbas was outside the home in Narelle Crescent, Greenacre and was getting into his car when he was approached by an unknown person and shot.
He was able to run back into the residence and call emergency services, with Abbas found conscious at the scene.
NSW Ambulance paramedics treated him, before taking him to hospital. He was in a serious but stable condition and is undergoing emergency surgery.
It is reported that he suffered injuries to his torso and right leg in the attack.
Officers from the Bankstown Police Area Command have established a crime scene and commenced an investigation into the incident, with assistance from the State Crime Command’s Criminal Groups and Raptor Squads.
Whilst police have noted that “investigations are in their infancy”, they believe that it was a targeted incident.
In a press conference, Detective Superintendent Adam Johnson stated that it was too early into the investigation to speculate on a specific motive, or whether the incident is linked to other shootings.
“This is clearly a targeted and brazen shooting. The circumstances that we know at the moment are very concerning.” he said.
Johnson continued that: “we now have one, if not more offenders on the run.”
After this incident, a 20-year-old man has been shot dead in Sydney’s south-west, on Thursday 27 July. The man is yet to be formally identified.
He was shot on Broughton Street, Canterbury at around 2am. Officers who arrived at the scene found the man with multiple gunshot wounds.
Whilst NSW Ambulance paramedics tried to treat the man, he died at the scene.
This is the fifth person to be shot this week, after three people were shot in Greenacre on Sunday 24 July after 2.15am.
In this incident, an unknown shooter opened fire on a 25-year-old man, Ahmed Al Azzam, who was sitting in a parked car on Mayvic Street, Greenacre. He was left critically injured.
A young couple, who were also sitting in a parked car, were shot as well, with the 22-year-old man Kaashif Richards and 19-year-old woman Achiraya Jantharat left injured.
Al Azzam was shot in the head, whereas Richards was shot in the neck, and Jantharat was shot in the back.
There is no suggestion that the shootings in Greenacre and Canterbury are linked.
What is the Penalty for Assaulting a Criminal Lawyer?
Is a criminal lawyer a dangerous job? New South Wales Laws prescribe heavier penalties for assaulting or threatening a criminal lawyer.
While these laws provide extra protection to lawyers, attacks on criminal lawyers are rare and not common.
Section 322 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides that it is an offence to cause injury or detriment, or threaten to do so, to any person, whilst intending to influence a person’s conduct as a lawyer acting for a defendant in a criminal matter, or in connection with criminal proceedings.
It is also an offence to, without reasonable excuse, cause injury or detriment, or threaten to do so, to any person on account of anything lawfully done by a person as a lawyer acting for a defendant in a criminal matter, or in connection with criminal proceedings, as per section 326.
There are limited ‘reasonable excuses’ which primarily include where you end or threaten to end a retainer, or make or threaten to make a complaint about a lawyer to a professional body (i.e., the NSW Legal Services Commissioner).
Therefore, section 326 can be deemed to target actions in ‘reprisal’ to a lawyer’s conduct, whereas section 322 targets actions aimed at influencing a lawyer’s conduct in proceedings.
These offences are also applicable where committed in relation to a witness, juror, judicial officer, or a public justice official.
A maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment is prescribed for assaulting or threatening a criminal lawyer in the circumstances outlined in section 322 and 326 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
Both of those offences are classified as ‘table 1’ offences, which means that they will be dealt with summarily in the Local Court, unless the prosecution or accused person elects to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.
In the Local Court, the maximum penalty applicable is limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $11,000 fine, for a single offence.
Where an offence is committed under section 322 with further intent to procure the conviction (a finding of ‘guilty’) or acquittal (a finding of ‘not guilty’) of any person of a serious indictable offence, the matter is required to proceed to the District Court.
A serious indictable offence is any offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of 5 years or more.
This is due to how the offence is classified as ‘strictly indictable’. In this case, a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment is applicable.
By Poppy Morandin.