23 March 2020

South Coast men face terrorism, firearm charges

| Michael Weaver
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Batemans Bay arrested on terrorism offences.

A 23-year-old man from Batemans Bay (in blue shirt and hat) has been charged with early-stage planning and preparation for a terrorist act. Photo: NSW Police.

Benjamin Lucas, 23, of Catalina has been refused bail at Nowra Local Court after he faced one count of acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. He was also charged with two counts of possessing a prohibited firearm.

Lucas is one of three men arrested and charged by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) following the execution of a number of search warrants in the past week on the NSW South Coast.

The NSW JCTT is comprised of the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and NSW Crime Commission.

The court heard Lucas, who has strong local ties to the community, allegedly made admissions to police in relation to bomb-making experience and admissions of gaining materials to make crude bombs.

Lucas was arrested outside Nowra Police Station last Friday (20 March) after hunting knives and survivalist equipment were found in the car he was driving.

Police alleged in court that Lucas was involved in early-stage planning and preparation for a terrorist act.

It was further alleged he was working with a Sanctuary Point man to acquire military equipment, including firearms and other items capable of making improvised explosive devices.

During a search of the Lucas’ Catalina home, police seized electronic items, hunting knives, survivalist equipment and a replica firearm.

An initial forensic examination of the electronic items uncovered a large quantity of extreme right-wing and anti-government material.

Twenty-one-year-old Joshua Bruce Lucas of Sanctuary Point was also before the court charged with acts done in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act.

The latest man charged, a 19-year-old from Falls Creek, was arrested on Saturday for the possession of an unauthorised firearm. He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Nowra Local Court on 1 June.

Both Benjamin and Joshua Lucas have been remanded in custody to reappear in court on 11 May.

The arrest of Benjamin Lucas was under specified-time provisions after members of the JCTT conducted enquiries into his links to Joshua Lucas.

Further search warrants on properties at Sanctuary Point, Falls Creek and Tapitallee, near Nowra, between 19 March and 21 March, resulted in the seizure of items that could be used in the construction of an improvised explosive device, electronic devices and other material which will be subjected to further examination.

A NSW Police spokesperson said investigations by the NSW JCTT remain ongoing.

“Anyone with information about extremist activities or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be,” the NSW Police spokesperson said.

The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

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