A Batemans Bay man charged with an alleged terrorism offence, who allegedly has experience in making bombs, is an assistant manager of a local supermarket
Benjamin Lucas, 23, of Catalina, is charged with one count of acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and two counts of possessing a prohibited firearm.
Lucas appeared before Nowra Local Court Magistrate Gabriel Fleming, via video link from the South Coast Correctional Centre on Monday, March 23.
The court heard from David Jordan, representing the Commonwealth Department of Prosecution, that Lucas had allegedly "made admissions to police in relation to bomb making experience and of gaining materials to make, albeit crude bombs".
"With the locally acquired resources, the accused could have access to a crude bomb," he said.
"Police also have photographic evidence of him with prohibited weapons and not all those weapons have been recovered by police.
"There is an image of the accused with a shotgun, or a replica shotgun, and that item has not been found."
The court also heard police had forensic evidence, surveillance and communication monitoring of the alleged.
Mr Jordan provided Magistrate Fleming with a summary of the police facts, saying under the Commonwealth Crime Act "you must not grant bail for someone charged with terrorism unless in exceptional circumstances".
"The risk can't be obliterated - these are serious offences, there is significant evidence and there is a risk to the community."
Appearing on Lucas' behalf, legal aid solicitor Matt Kwan applied for bail, saying there were exceptional circumstances around the case including the impact the COVID-19 virus was going to have on the court system, with extensive delays in cases being heard expected.
"Mr Lucas has strong community ties and is a long term resident of the South Coast area and is the assistant manager of the Woolworths Supermarket at Vincentia," he said.
"His partner is four months' pregnant and with the delays that could occur due to COVID-19 he might not be there to support her through the pregnancy and when the baby is born."
He said Mr Lucas remaining in custody raised his risk of being infected by the virus and that a Justice edict has been issued that with the expected additional delays in court cases due to the virus' affects it was recommended not to have people remain in or enter in custody to delay the risk of contracting COVID-19.
"Procedures adopted by federal and state governments on social distancing and the shutdown of services, social isolation is not possible in the prison environment," he said.
"Custody facilities are full of transient people, coming and going, and you cannot control the virus.
"Being in custody places Mr Lucas at greater risk of contracting the disease."
He said his client was willing to enter into strict bail conditions including regular reporting to police, giving up access to mobile phones and computers, would not access the internet or social media and not associate with or contact any co-accused or prosecution witnesses or go within one kilometre of the Tomerong electricity substation.
Magistrate Fleming said despite Lucas' lack of criminal record, his work and family commitments and ties to keep him in the community and possible considerable delays around COVID-19 and the court system, these were serious matters.
"With the facts before me the prosecution has a strong case," she said, "including a lot of forensic material, police observations and communication monitoring and the alleged admissions of a capacity to make bombs.
"These are extremely serious matters which if sentenced are likely to end in a custodial sentence."
He was refused bail to reappear at Nowra Local Court on May 11.
He is one of three men who have been arrested and charged by NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) following the execution of a number of search warrants over the past week on the NSW South Coast.
The latest charged, a 19-year-old man from Falls Creek, was arrested on Saturday for the possession of an unauthorised firearm. He will appear in court on June 1.
Twenty-one-year-old Joshua Bruce Lucas, of Sanctuary Point, has also been before the court charged with an acts done in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act.
He remains in custody and will reappear on May 11.