A Melbourne university student has avoided conviction after admitting to sending senator Pauline Hanson death threats online and despite a magistrate calling his actions a “really stupid thing to do”.
Koshin-Connor Ibrahim, 27, faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after a last-minute agreement between his lawyers and the prosecution avoided the case being contested over a three-day hearing.
Ibrahim was initially charged with three counts of using a carriage service to make threats to kill in October last year after the Australian Federal Police raided his Brunswick home.
This was reduced to a single rolled-up charge of using a carriage services to menace between the dates of September 16 and October 11 last year, which he admitted to in court.
The court was told the Monash University student created a Twitter account in May that year with the username “Butcher of Barkly Square”.
On September 16, he sent two tweets to Senator Hanson that read: “I’m planning an assassination of Pauline Hanson that I fully intend to follow through with the intent of killing her.
“I have weapons and I have a plan, and that plan is to kill high profile senator Pauline Hanson.”
A third tweet sent on October 11, replying to a media statement put out by Senator Hanson read: “I’m coming to kill you right now, I’m coming to kill you with my might.
“I have psychic powers and I’m going to use them to kill you tonight.”
Ibrahim’s barrister, Patrick J Doyle SC, told the court the tweets weren’t serious and were a “poorly judged effort to have himself banned from Twitter”.
Mr Doyle said the incidents occurred at a time when his client was suffering from long Covid and he was at a point where he was sick of Twitter.
“In short, it wasn’t a serious Twitter, Koshin tended to post statements ironically and made attempts at humour,” he said.
“He never intended these tweets to be taken seriously.”
He told the court his client was searching online at the time “how to get banned from Twitter” and, due to the circles he was swimming in, getting banned would “immortalise” him online.
Mr Doyle said his client had a “very promising future”, wanted to further his study in food scarcity and had never been in trouble with the law before.
“This conduct is very much out of character for him,” he said.
“He is someone who is politically engaged. As many of his generation are, he is someone who is very concerned about climate change.”
Prosecutors labelled Ibrahim’s actions as “highly reckless” and noted he had previously been banned from Twitter for using obscene language towards a member of parliament.
But they agreed he never had the intention to carry out the threats and was just attempting to test the boundaries of social media.
Agreeing to place Ibrahim on diversion, magistrate Thérèse McCarthy said all the positive things said about the young man sat in stark contrast with the “abject stupidity” of his actions.
“Whatever you might think about Pauline Hanson, there’s nothing she has done to attract this threat of harm or threat to kill,” she said.
“This kind of behaviour is not acceptable … It was a really stupid thing to do and it was a really harmful thing to do.”
The court was told Senator Hanson “supported” Ibrahim being placed on diversion — a way for low-level offenders to avoid a criminal conviction if they follow certain conditions imposed by the court.
Ms Hanson also suggested Ibrahim be made to donate to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Ms McCarthy said she had read Ibrahim’s letter of apology to Ms Hanson and accepted it showed “genuine remorse”.
“I have read your apology and I think it provides a real part of the puzzle,” she said.
“Basically, at the end of the day, it’s not funny. Its not acceptable but the court will grant you diversion because of your otherwise good character.”
Ibrahim will be required to be of good behaviour for 12 months and make a $1000 donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.