Imran Patel was sentenced at the Auckland District Court in 2016 for possessing, making and distributing objectionable material relating to ISIS propaganda.
A New Zealand man jailed for gathering and distributing execution-style videos has been granted leave to further appeal his prison sentence after his first appeal was dismissed.
Aucklander Imran Patel was jailed for three years and nine months in June 2016 after pleading guilty to making, distributing and possessing videos of an extremely violent nature.
He was the first New Zealander to be jailed on such charges.
The videos depicted violence perpetuated by the terrorist group Isis, including execution-style killings.
Police searched Patel’s home in December 2015, and found 62 objectionable videos showing extreme violence or cruelty, as well as copies of an Isis-endorsed online magazine.
The material was stored on various devices, with some sent to friends he had met through an Auckland mosque.
In April, Patel’s lawyer Adam Holland argued that the starting point of five years’ jail for Patel’s sentence was too high, and that the charge for making the material was at the lower end of the spectrum.
Patel had collected 137 video files from various online sources and had only distributed two five-minute videos to some of his associates, Holland said.
None of the material was altered or edited.
“You’re not going to get a more benign example of a making charge than this.”
Holland acknowledged the two videos, circulated to 52 people, were of extreme violence or execution, and that Patel supported the actions in the clips.
However, he disagreed Patel’s actions could incite support for the violence, as the original decision stated.
“He was a young man heavily involved in the Muslim community and had a genuine interest in Middle Eastern affairs.
“A lot of the material was not deemed objectionable. He pulled it from a number of sources to get an overall picture of what was happening in the Middle East. I would not say it is sinister.”
However, senior counsel for the respondent, Brendan Horsley, said there was no doubt the videos endorsed Isis.
Patel’s case offered a clear chance for New Zealand to show it did not support anything the terrorist group did, he said.
“The videos broadcast actually had the Isis flag as imagery, accompanied by a ‘revenge is sweet’ phrase in the first instance.
“Anything that supports what Isis is doing is an incredibly important and aggravated factor in this offending.”
Horsley also questioned Patel’s letter of remorse, suggesting it was more an attempt to vindicate the material, “and that, in itself, is disturbing”.
In a decision released on Tuesday, Justice Helen Winkelmann noted that much of the material in question was “at the extreme end of the scale”.
The videos depicted “the taking of human life in a brutal and cruel fashion”, she said.
“Added to this is the connection of some of the material to the terrorist organisation, which we consider increases the seriousness with which it is to be viewed.”
A starting point of five years’ imprisonment for collating and distributing the videos was less than half the maximum sentence available, and was appropriate in that instance, Justice Winkelmann said.
The appeal against sentence was dismissed on that count.
Holland also objected to a one-year uplift of Patel’s sentence due to his previous convictions, which brought a 10-month jail term.
Those charges, relating to a road rage incident, included threatening to kill and use of an offensive weapon.
Holland argued that the one-year uplift was excessive as it was more than the original 10-month sentence.
Justice Winkelmann agreed, saying the one-year uplift was too great given Patel’s original sentence.
“Although we do think his prior offending could have easily justified some uplift of up to six months from the five-year starting point to reflect the particular need for personal deterrence, the issue of an increase in sentence was not before us.”
Leave to appeal was granted on that count.