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‘Amateurish’: Lawyer’s killers in court

A man who shot dead a criminal lawyer in broad daylight, and the alleged mastermind behind the hit, only meant to injure the man, their defence teams have argued in court.

Ho Ledinh, 65, was gunned down outside a busy Bankstown cafe in an apparent debt collection attempt.

Arthur Keleklio, 41, and Abraham Sinai, 37, laughed and caught up over video link in the Supreme Court on Monday before their sentence hearing began, with Keleklio remarking: “F**k, hopefully it goes all well”.

In April, Keleklio pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Ledinh, shooting him three times with a .45 calibre handgun as he sat with two friends outside the Happy Cup Cafe in Bankstown City Plaza on January 23, 2018.

The lawyer can be seen on CCTV stumbling to his feet before he slumps to the ground.

CCTV played to a jury shows the moments lawyer Ho Ledinh was shot outside Bankstown’s Happy Cup Cafe.

CCTV played to a jury shows the moments lawyer Ho Ledinh was shot outside Bankstown’s Happy Cup Cafe.

Two months later, a jury found Sinai guilty of murder for his alleged role in orchestrating the hit, after he had pleaded not guilty to murder.

The prosecution claimed Sinai recruited Keleklio for the shooting.

They argued Sinai briefly met up with Keleklio about 15 minutes before the shooting, where he gave Keleklio the gun, and acted as a getaway for Keleklio when he waited in a grey Nissan van in the car park at East Terrace.

On Monday, the court repeatedly heard how “unsophisticated” the plan was.

Keleklio drove his own car to Bankstown, was caught on 15 different CCTV cameras before even arriving at the cafe, and the shooting was documented on security footage, the court heard.

The court heard Arthur Keleklio drove his own car to Bankstown and was caught on 15 different CCTV cameras before arriving at the cafe.

The court heard Arthur Keleklio drove his own car to Bankstown and was caught on 15 different CCTV cameras before arriving at the cafe.

Sinai’s barrister Mark Tedeschi said his client was of “limited intellectual capacity and whatever the plan was, it would have been obvious to most people that there were video cameras everywhere”.

“The amateurish way it was done … cameras actually filmed the attack itself, as well as numerous cameras filming the getaway – are utterly consistent with a plan to wound or injure rather than to kill,” he added.

He called it an “incredibly inept plan from the beginning”.

Mr Tedeschi argued Judge Robert Hulme could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Sinai was an organiser of the hit, or was the one who recruited Keleklio to carry out the hit, or that a plan involved anything other than to wound or injure Mr Ledinh.

Both legal teams for Sinai and Keleklio asked Judge Hulme to accept evidence that Keleklio gave in front of a court in August, the credibility of which the judge had previously deemed problematic.

They claimed CCTV footage of the shooting was consistent with Keleklio’s evidence that he “only meant to shoot him (Mr Ledinh) in the leg”.

Keleklio’s barrister, Paul Coady, told the court the CCTV clearly showed his client could have shot Mr Ledinh in the back of the head, but he moved positions and instead pointed the gun down towards his lower body.

Solicitor Ho Ledinh was shot outside the Happy Cup Cafe in Bankstown. Picture: Facebook

Solicitor Ho Ledinh was shot outside the Happy Cup Cafe in Bankstown. Picture: Facebook

He argued he could have used the three shots to hit his vital organs or his head “but the decision was made not to do so”.

Keleklio previously gave evidence that he was initially meant to carry out a nonviolent debt collection, but the plan changed 20 minutes beforehand.

Keleklio said he was drug-affected at the time and that the gun malfunctioned, letting off two more shots than he intended.

But crown prosecutor Sean Hughes rejected the suggestion Keleklio didn’t intend to kill the solicitor.

“(He’s got a) .45 calibre weapon. It’s close range. He shoots three times,” he said.

“The intention was to kill rather than to harm.”

Mr Hughes argued the reason Keleklio moved to a less obvious position before shooting Mr Ledinh was because he didn’t want to get too close and risk one of Mr Ledinh’s associates becoming involved.

He also rejected evidence from a psychologist that Sinai had an intellectual disability, saying it was “at odds” with his proven involvement in the case.

The prosecution alleged in court Mr Ledinh was killed over a financial dispute involving a man named “Khai” and claimed Sinai worked as a debt collector for “Khai”.

They also claimed “Khai” had owed money to one of Mr Ledinh’s clients, Tri Nguyen, and claimed Sinai was the link between “Khai” and Mr Ledinh.

Mr Hughes said Sinai’s sentence should be longer than that handed to Keleklio.

Judge Hulme reserved his sentence for both men to a later date.

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