Law and Penalties for Using Explosive Substances or Corrosive Fluids in NSW

Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.


Police in Perth are currently appealing to the public in order to track down a man who allegedly attacked an Indigenous woman and her daughter with a makeshift flamethrower.

The man is said to have had a white swastika painted on his forehead, and is described as fair skinned, about 40 years old and about 175cm tall.

At around 6.20pm, a 40-year-old woman and her teenage daughter were walking along a street near Corfield Shopping Centre when the man approached them.

He yelled racial obscenities at the woman before spraying a can of deodorant in her direction.

Police will allege that the man lit the spray, thus turning the can into a makeshift flamethrower, and attempted to burn the woman with the flame.

The man fled on foot.

The woman only received minor burns on her arm, despite the “potential to be much more seriously injured” as explained by Detective Senior Sergeant Sean Bell, Officer in Charge of the State Security Investigation Unit.

“We are treating this cowardly and random attack on a woman and her child, doing nothing more than walking to the shops in the early evening, very seriously. This type of behaviour is not acceptable and is not tolerated within our community.” continued Bell.

The police have released a composite image of the attacker, stating: “someone in the community knows who this person is and we are asking that member of the community to contact us and assist in identifying this person.”

Senator Lidia Thorpe questioned the government as to why there was no public response to the horrific attack, stating: “These victims deserved better. We all deserve better. We need real action to tackle the ugliness of racial hate. Until then, under this Government, the politics of racism and discrimination will keep growing.”

A representative of the Prime Minister responded, in relation to the incident: “if those facts are true, then of course they are to be completely and utterly condemned…they are shameful.”

Senator Thorpe has sought to use this incident as evidence that responses to far-right extremism need to be taken seriously.

“Racism kills. It harms people. I am appalled at this terrible act of violence – this shocking hate crime. But it doesn’t come from nowhere,” she said.

“There is a clear link between the politics of hate, and acts of hate.  When politicians and prominent public figures spend years encouraging and amplifying the politics of hate, the inevitable outcome is violence.”

The attack comes weeks after the Coalition government, along with One Nation and Centre Alliance, edited a Senate motion that aimed to call out “far right extremism”, to instead see “far right” mentions removed and “far left” mentions included.

“A racially motivated attack is not only a physical assault, it is an attempt to undermine the shared values that hold our democracy together…. The time is well overdue for a nationwide an adequately-resourced plan of action to eradicate racism in Australia.” commented June Oscar, of the Australian Human Rights Commission.


Law and Penalties for Using Explosive Substance or Corrosive Fluid

The law prescribes a maximum penalty of 25-years imprisonment for causing any gunpowder or other explosive substance to explode with the intention to burn maim disfigure disable, or do grievous bodily harm to any person, according to section 47 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Further, pursuant to section 47, it is an offence to:

  • Send or deliver to, or cause, any explosive substance or other dangerous or noxious thing to be taken or received by any person, with the intention to burn maim disfigure disable, or do grievous bodily harm to a person; or
  • To put or lay at any place, or to cast or throw at or upon or otherwise apply any corrosive fluid or destructive or explosive substance (including petrol) to any person with the intention to burn maim disfigure disable, or do grievous bodily harm to a person.

Intent under this offence includes to burn, maim, disfigure, disable, or do grievous bodily harm to, any person, however, bodily injury need not actually occur.

Grievous bodily harm is any ‘really serious injury’ and includes any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person pursuant to section 4(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

However, it does not require that the injuries be permanent or that the consequences of the injury are long lasting, or life threatening (Haoui v R [2008] NSWCCA 209).

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