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Lawyer shot in ‘targeted’ attack wins court bid

A criminal lawyer shot in a “targeted” attack has won a court bid to have all electronic devices seized by police returned to him.

user iconNaomi Neilson 14 August 2023 Big Law
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NSW Police have until Wednesday afternoon (16 August) to return several phones, a computer, an iPad and other electronic devices to Mahmoud Abbas, a criminal lawyer who was shot in front of his Greenacre home last month by an unknown assailant.

Based on his occupation, police said they are treating the 26 July shooting as a “targeted attack”.

Police seized his devices the same day and maintained the data on them could be relevant to their ongoing investigation.


However, Mr Abbas submitted he uses the devices to conduct his legal practice and would be “seriously inconvenienced and the rights of his clients potentially irrevocably compromised” without them.

Police offered to transfer the data to other devices and argued there may come a time when the physical devices themselves may be needed during subsequent criminal trials.

They also “specifically and uncontroversially acknowledged” they are not permitted to examine material that is the subject of lawyer/client privilege “beyond an initial or threshold assessment”.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison said that while the seized data may be important to the investigation, the devices are not.

“I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that the seized devices will themselves be used as evidence in any proceedings that may in due course be commenced with respect to the attack,” he said.

During submissions, there was a concern Mr Abbas “might deliberately or inadvertently delete material” from the devices, which may then “frustrate the police in their attempts to gain access to the suspected balance of the data which they were thought to contain”.

Mr Abbas’ counsel submitted he would be willing to make an undertaking to the court not to delete any material.