Love Machine killer was acting on his dad’s orders, lawyer tells court

The killer who gunned down two men outside a Melbourne nightclub should receive a shorter sentence, his lawyers say, because he had been ordered to open fire by the father he feared – the late crime boss Nabil Maghnie.

Jacob Elliott was in the passenger seat of a stolen Porsche SUV when he shot and killed patron Richard Arow and security guard Aaron Khalid Osmani, who were outside the Love Machine nightclub in Prahran about 3.15am on April 14, 2019.

Nabil Maghnie (centre) was a feared crime figure.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Security guard Semisi Tu’itufu was wounded to the shoulder and two other patrons suffered forearm wounds when hit by the same bullet fired from Elliott’s semi-automatic handgun.

Elliott, 21, and friend Allan Fares, 25, who drove the Porsche slowly past the nightclub, were found guilty in the Supreme Court in April of two charges of murder, two of attempted murder and one of intentionally causing serious injury.

The shootings happened hours after Elliott’s half-brother, Ali Maghnie, was thrown out of the nightclub for poor behaviour. Elliott told his trial that his father contacted him after Ali’s ejection and ordered he fire warning shots outside Love Machine.

Elliott also told his trial he feared he would be bashed by his father if he disobeyed the order, but did not intend to hurt anyone.

Aaron Khalid Osmani (left) and Richard Arow were shot dead outside the Love Machine nightclub in April 2019.

Nabil Maghnie, 44, was shot dead eight months later. No one has been charged over his death.

On Thursday, Elliott’s barrister, Julie Condon, QC, told the second day of his pre-sentence hearing that the young man began living with his father’s family in his teens, was desperate for acceptance, had a misguided sense of loyalty to him and was vulnerable to Maghnie’s power and influence.

Condon argued Elliott felt under pressure and compelled to act, which reduced his criminality.

“We say … Maghnie is the person who has devised the retributive attack,” she said.

Jacob Elliott was found guilty of two counts of murder.

But Justice Andrew Tinney said the jury’s verdict showed it rejected Elliott’s evidence, and it was also plausible that he and Fares devised the plan when contacted by Ali Maghnie. The judge said Nabil Maghnie might have known he was under police surveillance at the time, so might have wanted to avoid involvement.

Prosecutors have submitted it is open to Tinney to impose life sentences because of the seriousness of the crimes.

Condon said on Thursday that the Love Machine murders were “extremely grave”, but not in the worst category of offending for the crime of murder.

But Tinney said it was hard to see how they could not be classified among the worst, noting the crime was an act of premeditated retribution, the shots were fired from a moving car in a busy street, and the victims were defenceless and shot from close range.

Allan Fares after his arrest.Credit:Nine

“These are dreadful crimes, aren’t they?” the judge asked the barrister. Condon maintained they were “very grave”.

Elliott’s maternal aunt, Karlene Jergens, said she became worried when she saw her nephew develop an attraction in his mid-teens to his father’s lifestyle of “cars, clothing and money”.

Moussa Hamka.Credit:Facebook

“He kind of took on his father’s persona … just very grown up already, too grown up,” Jergens said.

Another aunt, Fay Maghnie, said it was a shock for Elliott to have her brother in his life, as the younger man was raised mainly by soft, gentle women, whereas his father demanded respect and was quick to anger.

Fay Maghnie said she heard her brother had hit Elliott, and the pair didn’t speak for a year.

She said she and her family were sorry for the pain the Arow and Osmani families endured, and knew what it was like to lose someone.

“It was a day that changed so many people’s lives,” she said.

Lawyers for Fares and Moussa Hamka, 28, who was found guilty of assisting them by hiding Elliott’s gun after the shootings, will address the judge later on Thursday.

The three guilty men have spent more than three years in custody since their arrests.

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