Lindt Cafe Siege: Australia Needs National Database of Criminal and Bail Histories

Australia needs a national database containing the criminal and bail histories of every offender in the country if prosecutors and police are to avoid the type of oversight that allowed the Sydney siege gunman to remain at liberty, the coroner’s court has heard.

In the year leading up to the attack on the Lindt Cafe in December last year, gunman Man Haron Monis was granted bail on a string of serious charges, including accessory to murder and 40 counts of sexual and indecent assault.

The inquest into the siege has heard that on each occasion investigating police and solicitors did not realise that some of the offences Monis had been charged with occurred while he was on bail for sending offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers – a Commonwealth offence.

While counsel representing the families of two siege victims have suggested that police could and should have simply “put two and two together”, the inquest heard on Tuesday that there was a nation-wide problem with the flow of information between law enforcement agencies across state boundaries and between the state and Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Experienced DPP solicitor Larissa Michalko told the court it was “very, very difficult to get that kind of information”.

“In NSW it’s difficult to get interstate criminal histories and difficult to get Commonwealth histories,” she said.

“It’s the same in the ACT, and slightly worse in Victoria. There are differences between histories in different states – often criminal histories don’t include the bail conditions applying to the accused person. A bail report will have that information, but they’re often not admissible [in court].”

Read more in Camden Courier.

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