Home » Darwin shooter Benjamin Hoffman has not yet been convicted – almost three years after killing four people in a riot in the city
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Darwin shooter Benjamin Hoffman has not yet been convicted – almost three years after killing four people in a riot in the city

It was dim in the center of Darwin when the first shots came.

Key points:

  • Four men died on June 4, 2019, when Benjamin Hoffmann went to shoot Darwin.
  • He pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and one murder in 2021
  • Hoffmann’s crimes are not yet punishable

Car kickback?

Early Territory Day Fireworks?

But the horrors that unfolded at sunset on June 4, 2019, were far worse than anyone would have guessed.

As the third anniversary approaches, no one knows how long Benjamin Hoffmann will spend in prison for his terrible crimes.

Wearing a hi-vis shirt and full of methamphetamine, Hoffmann broke into the rooms of the Palms Motel, fired a pistol and summoned a man named “Alex.”

There, at about 5.40 pm, he killed Hassan Baydoun, a 33-year-old taxi driver who was on break from work.

(Top left clockwise) Robert Courtney, Hassan Baydoun, Michael Sisois and Nigel Hellings. (Included)

The young woman, whose partner later told the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory about the terrifying moment when she asked the shooter to save their lives, was also shot in the foot.

He did.

Hoffmann then returned to the white lice borrowed from a friend and moved on to his next victim.

Hoffmann shot 75-year-old Nigel Hells in a quiet apartment building in The Gardens, a suburb of the city center.

Next on the road at the Buff Club, 57-year-old Michael Sisois, a colleague and friend of Hoffmann, was murdered in a parking lot.

Police were on his tail at the time, but Hoffmann still managed to get out of the CBD and take another life – from 52-year-old Robert Courtney – before he apparently tried to surrender.

At the NT police headquarters, 15 kilometers from the CBD, a bloody and injured Hoffmann was caught on CCTV, grabbing a shotgun and trying to break through the closed doors of a police station.

If he failed, he went back to the new one and started driving back to the CBD, calling himself a triple-0, announcing that he needed help.

At the other end of the phone line, veteran police officer Lee Morgan desperately tried to persuade the shooter to quit.

“Ben, I don’t want you to step into the police station hall … I really don’t want you to drive back to town,” Superintendent Morgan said.

Spacebar to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows to increase volume. Viewing time: 1 minute 6 seconds 1 min 6s Benjamin Hoffmann was arrested in the Darwin CBD on June 4, 2019. (Delivered to: Supreme Court NT)

Hoffmann returned to where the shooting began, responding to the Palms Motel at one of Darwin’s busiest intersections before being pulled out of the car by Consul Michael Kent, a general.

“I’ll protect you with my life,” Constable Kent told the shooter, who was afraid the police would shoot him instead.

Tactical police immediately attacked, hitting the beaten and bloody killer in the middle of the road.

The “hour of chaos,” as described later that night, came to a dramatic end.

But for the families of Hoffmann’s victims and the city of Darwin, the chaos had only just begun.

Three years later, there is still no punishment

After his arrest and a short stay in hospital, Hoffmann appeared in court for the first time in a few days after the riot.

“I’m very sorry about what happened,” he said of the video room in Darwin Prison.

Almost three years later, Hoffmann continues to speak in court, despite his lawyer’s attempts to keep him quiet.

He regularly makes dramatic allegations of corruption and coercion, giving handwritten letters to the Supreme Court judge presiding over his case.

Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann changed his confession at the end of his nine-week trial. (Delivered by Elizabeth Howell)

Several weeks after the nine-week murder process that forced the victims and their families to relive the trauma of their fearsome crimes, Hoffmann changed his mind and pleaded guilty.

He pleaded guilty to the murders of Mr Baydoun, Mr Sisois and Mr Courtney, the killing of Mr Hellings and a handful of minor, albeit serious, crimes committed during his riot.

But despite a prayer more than six months ago and the third anniversary of the shooting, those affected by Hoffmann’s crimes are still waiting to find out how long he will spend in prison.

Hoffmann ‘s sentencing efforts have been hampered by the murderer himself, who fired and re – hired a number of state – funded lawyers.

According to Chrissy McConnel, president of the NT Association of Criminal Lawyers, legal representation is a fundamental right for every Australian, regardless of their crime.

“Everyone has the right to seek legal assistance … Access to justice is essential to comply with the rule of justice and equality before the law,” Ms McConnel said.

The sentencing process finally began on Friday, with the first in a series of medical experts summoned to testify about the murderer’s state of mind.

Hoffmann’s parole may be affected by a judge’s decision on the level of his guilt at the time of the offense. (Delivered: Facebook)

Hoffmann and his lawyers, who work for free after cutting his legal aid funding, have claimed that he had been involved in deception, paranoia and drug-induced psychosis at the time of the shooting, and that his sentence should reflect this.

Prosecutors have claimed that he had used drugs, but was fully aware that his actions were wrong, which should not change his moral guilt.

Outside the Supreme Court, the case may seem clear, but inside, Hoffmann is intertwined with a complex network that deserves to be heard under Australian law.

Hoffmann has often argued that the judiciary has been treated unfairly. (ABC News: Che Chorley)

“Access to justice is a fundamental right of all people, so it is very important that the court allows the proceedings to proceed in its own right and examines all ways in which the accused… to present all relevant evidence in order to give a fair assessment.”

“No one wants to see mistakes being made in a lawsuit, and ensuring that all proceedings are followed first and foremost will reduce the risk of mistakes being made, which could lead to further delays, of course.”

On July 25, the evidence of medical witnesses will be heard for another day before Hoffmann’s lawyers and crown prosecutors make final submissions.

Although Hoffmann is one step closer to knowing his fate, it is not known exactly when his victims and their families will end this chapter in their lives.