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Deadly Melbourne car attack not terrorism, but prosecutors say there were signs of radicalisation

On Thursday, prosecutor Mark Gibson, SC, told the court there were “various reasons” why Noori was not charged with terrorism offences, including difficulty in proving the offence beyond reasonable doubt.

But he said there were some features of the case that were consistent with Noori being radicalised.

“There is a degree of terror that the Crown would say Mr Noori was seeking to achieve, when he took this action.”

Mr Gibson said though the attack must be “tempered with” Noori’s mental illness – paranoid schizophrenia – his motive was to create fear.

Mr Crocaris’ son, Bill Crocaris, told reporters outside court that Noori’s actions were “an attack, plain and simple”.

“He succeeded in murdering my beloved father. He maimed over a dozen people, including international visitors to Melbourne, and traumatised our nation with his evil and cowardly act of terrorism on that day,” he said.

Saeed Noori following his arrest.

Saeed Noori following his arrest.Credit:Seven News Melbourne

There has never been more research available into understanding radicalisation, but experts are still grappling with how to define mass casualty attacks caused by individuals.

Terrorism expert Greg Barton said there was no black and white definition for terrorism.

“In all this there are different points of view,” he said.

He said terrorism was about use of violence towards a political end, and in the case of lone-actor attacks an offender seeing themselves as belonging to a group and has a consistent position can “tip it over the line” to terrorism.

Mr Barton said public acts of violence could “absolutely” be worse than acts of terrorism.

“Saying it isn’t terrorism doesn’t make it less horrible or less despicable,” he said.

The Supreme Court was told that after the attack, Noori uttered the words “Allahu Akbar”. That night in hospital, he told police he “did it in the name of Allah”, that he had been tortured by the government and wanted to “make [his] voice heard”.

Noori also told detectives that he was sympathetic to terrorist group Islamic State, though he didn’t know any members of it, and on his computer, investigators found images of car attacks in London, Barcelona and Charlottesville.

But the Supreme Court heard Noori had been a heavy user of ice, although the drug was not found in his system during the incident, and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after his arrest. In the years leading up to the attack, he was convinced spy agency ASIO had been following him.

His lawyer, Dermot Dann, QC, said “this was a man on the end of his tether”.

“We say there is a reduction in moral culpability here, that this is offending in response to and fully wound up in an entrenched mental illness,” Mr Dann said.

Noori will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.

Tammy Mills is a Crime Reporter for The Age.

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