News State NT News NT Police charges alleged Darwin shooter on four counts of murder

NT Police charges alleged Darwin shooter on four counts of murder

darwin shooter charged
The alleged Darwin shooter, Ben Hoffman. Photo: Facebook
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Northern Territory Police have charged 45-year-old Ben Hoffmann with four counts of murder over this week’s deadly shootings in Darwin.

Hoffmann will appear in court via video link on Friday morning charged with murder, recklessly endangering serious harm and criminal damage.

The news of the charges come hours after it was revealed Hoffman was picked up by police for speeding in the hours before the killing started.

Hoffmann was on parole when he allegedly used a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun to kill four men and seriously injure a woman on Tuesday night in and around Darwin.

The victims included a Greek-born Darwin man Michael Sisois, 57, who was killed at the Buffalo Club in Stuart Park shortly after 6pm, and a 52-year-old security guard from New Zealand named Robert Courtney.

Mr Courtney worked at the Mindil Beach Casino and was shot outside his home in Jolly Street.

Lebanese-born taxi driver and recent university graduate Hassan Baydoun, 33, was fatally shot while on his meal break at the Palms Motel.

The fourth victim was Nigel Hellings, 75.

Witnesses and NT Police say the gunman was looking for a man named “Alex” when the shooting began. Police later established Alex, a Darwin resident, was interstate at the time.

Police revealed on Thursday that Mr Hoffman was first picked up at 10.52am on Tuesday for driving 14km/h over the speed limit near Humpty Doo in a silver-coloured Proton car.

“He was not displaying any adverse behaviour or to reveal he was under the influence of anything, and nothing out of the ordinary was observed by police officers,” NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.

The vehicle was then twice detected speeding at 11am and 12.25pm around Pinelands.

Later, about 4pm, Mr Hoffman was at Jefferis Road, Humpty Doo, when a person called police. He left soon after.

Mr Hoffman has been held under guard in a Darwin hospital – where he has had surgery for apparent knife wounds “sustained prior” to being Tasered and arrested by police – since late Tuesday night.

Police also said on Thursday that they expected to soon charge Mr Hoffman with four counts of murder.

He was being formally interviewed by major crime detectives on Thursday.

“It is also anticipated that later today he will be charged with four counts of murder,” Mr Kershaw said.

The Palms Motel, where Tuesday’s shooting rampage apparently started. Photo: AAP

The shooting rampage has raised questions about why Hoffman was released in January after serving a non-parole period of four years of his six-year sentence, given his extensive criminal history.

His latest alleged act of violence, while wearing an electronic monitoring device, took place over the period of an hour in areas around Darwin.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has asked for a report from the Parole Board on Mr Hoffmann, and for another review of all people in the Territory on parole and on electronic monitoring, by the end of next week.

Mr Hoffman’s parole was formally revoked on Thursday.

“Once he is discharged from hospital, he will be moved to Darwin Correctional Centre and placed in high security, be isolated from the rest of the prison population and classified as ‘high risk’,” NT Commissioner for Corrections Scott McNairn said on Thursday.

“There will be an individual management plan aligned to this individual.”

Of the 103 people on parole in the NT, 46 are also being electronically monitored.

The deadly violence started at 5.39pm on Tuesday at the Palms Motel, where Mr Hoffmann allegedly shot and killed taxi driver Hassan Baydoun, 33, who was on a meal break.

Hassan Baydoun was allegedly the first of the four victims killed on Tuesday night. Photo: Facebook

Mr Baydoun’s cousin Abdallah Salman said his relative did not know the shooter and was accidentally caught up in the shootings as the alleged gunman went from room to room firing his gun and shouting for Alex.

A 23-year-old woman at the Palms Motel was shot in the legs. She remains in hospital in a stable condition.

Over the next hour, the shooter went on to kill Mr Courtney in Jolly Street, Woolner, Mr Hellings in Gardens Hill Crescent, and Mr Sisois at the Buffalo Club in Stuart Park.

A memorial service for the victims will be held at the Uniting Church in Darwin’s CBD at 7pm on Thursday.

-with AAP