CONTENT WARNING: This article contains offensive language.
The former president of the Canberra Rebels jailed for foul-mouthed and aggressive rants has had a win in court as his time behind bars was cut by one month on appeal.
On Thursday (16 September), the ACT Court of Appeal’s Justice Geoffrey Kennett found Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker had made an error when she sentenced 50-year-old Ali Hassan Bilal to 13 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of four months.
He allowed the appeal and said Bilal would be released after he had served three months in jail if he signed an 18-month good behaviour order.
Justice Kennett had upheld one ground of appeal, finding the chief magistrate erred when relying on common knowledge about the Rebels.
He said Bilal’s lawyers didn’t have the opportunity to respond as to whether the involvement of the Rebels in “standover tactics” was something that could be regarded as common knowledge that the chief magistrate could take into account.
The other grounds of appeal were rejected.
When it came to resentencing, Justice Kennett found the phone calls were calculated to cause fear in the recipients.
“Although in most instances the calls were made to fellow members of the Rebels, who might be thought not to be delicate or innocent persons, I do not think that can properly be regarded as excusing or mitigating the conduct,” he said.
He thought the head sentences imposed by Chief Magistrate Walker were appropriate but decided to suspend the sentence after three months due to the effect of Bilal’s absence on his family and to assist his rehabilitation.
Bilal can now be released from jail in November 2022.
He had been convicted on charges of using a carriage service to threaten to cause serious harm and using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence over a series of foul-mouthed and aggressive phone calls to four recipients that had been intercepted by police.
In a call on 19 January 2021, he said: “Twenty-four hours you’ve got to get the f**k out of my state; otherwise, I’m gunna shoot you. And take your f****n’ b***h with you”.
On 26 June 2021, he told a woman he had known since she was eight years old that he wanted her to get another man to meet with him.
“I’m gunna f**k him, his mother, his father, I’m not gunna leave anybody tonight,” he screamed.
Barrister Margaret Jones SC said he is no longer involved with the Rebels.
Bilal failed in his attempt to leave jail before his appeal when his bail application was rejected in August.
Totally agree with you Michael. He has worked hard and he doesn't deserve such encompassing… View