Gordon had sent letters containing bullets inserted into detonators to various public officials (eg the Prime Minister) and one private citizen.The prosecution submissions noted that the detonators in and of themselves were sensitive and could be fired by accidental impact and there was, thus, potential for actual harm to befall the recipients of those letters. One letter contained a threat to send a bomb, others made threats to kill and one letter stated that the water supply of a motel where refugees were staying had been poisoned. The letters were of anti-Catholic and anti-asylum seeker sentiment. They were sent over a period of three years. His defence counsel said “he knows that what he has done is very silly” but “also knows that what he has done is very serious”. Gordon contended that the detonators would not detonate unless they were hit with a hammer. His conduct was submitted to be
“a rant” venting his anger in respect of certain matters with which he disagreed.Sending explosives to the Prime Minister, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, the Queensland Premier, the Leader of the federal Opposition, the Reserve Bank Governor, the Westpac Bank chief executive officer and the Commonwealth Bank chief executive officer is not a good way to have "a rant".
Gordon pleaded guilty to 11 counts of unlawful use of postal service contrary to s 471 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and one count of unlawful possession of weapons contrary to s 50 of the Weapons Act 1990 (Qld).
Section 471 includes -
471.11 Using a postal or similar service to make a threat
Threat to kill
(1) A person (the first person ) is guilty of an offence if:(a) the first person uses a postal or similar service to make to another person (the second person) a threat to kill the second person or a third person; and (b) the first person intends the second person to fear that the threat will be carried out.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.
Threat to cause serious harm
(2) A person (the first person ) is guilty of an offence if: (a) the first person uses a postal or similar service to make to another person (the second person ) a threat to cause serious harm to the second person or a third person; and (b) the first person intends the second person to fear that the threat will be carried out.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years.
Actual fear not necessary
(3) In a prosecution for an offence against this section, it is not necessary to prove that the person receiving the threat actually feared that the threat would be carried out.
(4) In this section: "fear" includes apprehension. "threat to cause serious harm to a person includes a threat to substantially contribute to serious " harm to the person.
471.12 Using a postal or similar service to menace, harass or cause offence
A person is guilty of an offence if: (a) the person uses a postal or similar service; and (b) the person does so in a way (whether by the method of use or the content of a communication, or both) that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, menacing, harassing or offensive.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.
471.15 Causing an explosive, or a dangerous or harmful substance, to be carried by post
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if: (a) the person causes an article to be carried by post; and (b) the article consists of, encloses or contains: (i) an explosive; or (ii) a dangerous or harmful substance or thing that the regulations say must not, without exception, be carried by post.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.In considering the appeal Holmes, White and Gotterson JJA found that the District Court had given due consideration to the man's health and to his advanced years.