The tug-of-war over responsibility for Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis being free on bail has flared at the inquest with aggressive questions from the police force’s barrister to a DPP solicitor.
Dr Ian Freckleton QC grilled the DPP prosecutor on Thursday, challenging his claim police had agreed with his decision not to oppose bail for Monis.
Sex Crime Squad Detective Senior Constable Denise Vavayis had told the inquest previously she opposed Monis remaining on bail when he faced Penrith Court on October 10, 2014.
She deferred to the DPP solicitor’s expertise when he said there was no strong case for detaining him, she said.
Thirty-seven fresh sexual assault charges were laid against Monis that day in addition to three previous sexual assault charges and an accessory-to-murder charge, but bail was not opposed.
Monis took 18 people hostage in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe two months later.
The solicitor, who cannot be named, was confronted by Dr Freckleton on whether police agreed with his decision.
He said there had been no argument, only “an exchange of views”.
He also disagreed with evidence from Sex Crime Squad Detective Sergeant Eugene Stek, who said he told the solicitor at court that police wanted to oppose Monis getting bail.
“I don’t recall having any discussion with Detective Stek,” he said.
He accepted that, because he had decided not to seek a bail review the night before the October 10 hearing, the court had not had an opportunity to decide.
“Part of the job that we do as prosecutors is to exercise some discretion and that’s what I did on this occasion,” he said.
The inquest heard the solicitor had been in his job for two months when he handled the Monis case, that he was handling his first bail application in NSW and his first case involving murder-related charges.
The solicitor, who trained and worked as a lawyer overseas before coming to Australia, had not been formally trained in the new bail laws, which came into effect in 2014.
He told the inquest he read up on the laws in an online resource provided on the DPP office intranet.
He rejected a suggestion from Dr Freckleton that he had been nervous about his first bail matter and might have forgotten what Detective Stek had told him.
The coroner has enforced non-publication orders on the identities of two DPP solicitors who handled bail for Monis, saying there would be “significant negative impact” on their welfare if they were identified.
The inquest continues on Friday.