Two months before the Lindt Cafe siege, Man Haron Monis’s lawyer and the public prosecutor agreed Monis would remain free on bail when he faced court on serious charges the next day.
Detectives from the Sex Crime Squad laid 37 new charges of sexual assault against Monis when he appeared at Penrith Local Court on October 10, 2014.
These were in addition to two counts of accessory to murder and three sexual assault charges the self-styled Islamic cleric was facing.
Monis had been on bail and was allowed to remain free that day despite the new charges, which arose from alleged offences against six women.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) solicitor who handled the case that day was a relative newcomer.
He had worked overseas as a solicitor but was just two months into his job at the DPP and was handling his first bail matter.
The solicitor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the inquest into the siege he acted appropriately when he agreed with Monis’s solicitor that bail would not be opposed.
“I believe that I acted within my powers on that day and that I acted reasonably,” the solicitor told the inquest on Friday.
The solicitor’s assessment was that he could not ask the court to revoke bail as Monis had not breached bail for the accessory to murder charges.
He also said there was no new evidence to support a detention application – despite a homicide detective saying she had provided “fresh and compelling” evidence.
Counsel assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly SC, asked the solicitor if it was not incumbent upon him to alert the magistrate about the dramatic change in the charges against Monis, given the magistrate would not be able to read 40 charge sheets in court.
Mr Gormly said the charges painted a picture “of a person who was engaging in a particularly manipulative form of sexual imposition on a number of women over a prolonged period”.
He said the magnitude and seriousness of the sexual assault charges was such that it was not appropriate to concede bail by way of agreement with Monis’s solicitor.
“These matters should have been drawn to the attention of the court,” Mr Gormly said.
The solicitor replied: “I reject that proposition.”
The inquest heard the DPP had sent staff an email in May 2014 outlining new procedures requiring solicitors to speak to their manager about any case involving planned concessions on bail.
The solicitor, who started work in August 2014, said he had not seen the email and had not discussed the decision not to oppose Monis’s bail with a manager.
If the DPP had a policy on how bail concessions should be handled, he had never seen it, he said.
The inquest is investigating how authorities responded to Monis receiving bail on three occasions before the December 15, 2014 siege and whether there is a causal link between him being on bail and the siege deaths.
The inquest will continue on Monday.