The public prosecutor who handled a 2013 bail hearing for Man Haron Monis failed to view a video of a crucial witness statement defence lawyers relied on to win his freedom.
A year after that hearing over an accessory to murder charge, Monis stormed the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in Sydney.
The solicitor, who cannot be named, has also told the inquest into the deadly cafe siege in December last year that he was not “focused” on the fact Monis was already on bail at the time for another matter – sending offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers.
The inquest resumed on Monday with Murugan Thangaraj SC, the lawyer for the family of siege victim Katrina Dawson, questioning the DPP prosecutor over why he had failed to view what was described as a critical witness statement in the murder case.
Monis was granted or allowed to remain on bail three times in the year before the Sydney siege: in December 2013, on the accessory to murder charge; in May 2014, on three sexual assault charges; and in October 2014 – eight weeks before the tragedy – on a further 37 sexual assault charges.
Mr Thangaraj asked the solicitor: “So this very serious bail application that demanded a strong response was conducted in such a way that the major piece of evidence relied on by the defence was not viewed either by you or the court?”
The solicitor replied: “No.”
Defence lawyers used the video to argue that Monis should be granted bail.
The solicitor on Monday also told the inquest that he had ignored the fact Monis was already on bail for sending the offensive letters when the December 2013 bail application was heard.
“It is the case that I didn’t focus my mind on that particular issue,” the solicitor said.
When Mr Thangaraj put it to him that he had “missed” the detail, the solicitor replied: “Oh, yes.”
The inquest on Monday also heard from an Islamic studies expert who said that none of the imams he had spoken to ever saw Monis at a mosque.
Professor Mohamad Abdalla, from Griffith University in Queensland, told the inquest that he had consulted “extensively” with imams from around the country, and none could recall ever seeing Monis at a mosque.
He said it was likely that Monis rarely attended prayers.
“One would have to assume so, because even nominal people who attend a mosque on a regular basis would become known to the mosque,” he said.
The inquest resumes on Tuesday.