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Detention order for NSW ‘terror’ offender

A Sydney man who threatened to kill police, military staff and a magistrate will be kept behind bars for at least another year after his sentence expired.

Justice Michael Walton ordered in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday that Blake Nicholas Pender be subject to a continuing detention order for one year from September 13, 2021.

Pender, then 28, was jailed for four years and three months in December 2019 after admitting terror-related knife possession and threatening a magistrate.

The home affairs minister had sought a three-year CDO after time already spent in custody meant his sentence had expired.

Justice Walton said the matter was complex and he would be delivering his reasons for judgment at a later stage.

Pender, who suffers from schizophrenia, was arrested in June 2017 after approaching a group of police officers in Surry Hills, muttering in a foreign language and reaching for a knife hidden up his right sleeve.

When Pender was arrested and handcuffed he laughed and told the officers he’d have killed them all if he was still armed.

“The proudest thing a man can do is behead a cop,” he said.

Refused bail in court later that day, he promised to kill military and police personnel before telling magistrate Joanne Keogh he’d kill her next.

In a court appearance via video link later that day, Pender repeatedly declared “God is great” in Arabic and wished Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a long life.

Pender has converted to and renounced Islam twice, sports a Christian cross tattoo under his right eye and said he converted to Judaism in April.

Given he has a major mental illness and personality disorder, all medical experts agreed his abstinence from alcohol and illicit drugs was key to managing his risk.

His barrister Matthew Johnston SC fought the CDO application saying Pender could be adequately managed in the community with a list of proposed orders.

Mr Johnston said any deterioration in Pender’s mental health or his use of alcohol or drugs would be picked up by all the interventions put in place before any risk elevated.

But Perry Herzfeld SC, for the applicant, referred to the lack of enforcement available under the proposed community regime.

He referred to the “substantial risk” of Pender disengaging with those services.

“Your Honour will be satisfied of a real risk that Mr Pender will form the requisite intention to commit a serious terrorism offence,” he said.

The proposed measures would only be effective if Pender complied with them.

Mr Herzfeld previously told the court that as recently as June Pender “made a threat to kill someone” while being treated with methadone.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Kerri Eagle said such episodes were appearing “less frequently” and his condition had improved in a mental health facility.

Dr Eagle said she could not see “further benefit of him staying in custody”.

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