Two mobile phones have been found in the prison cell of convicted NSW rapists Bilal and Mohammed Skaf, causing a major security scare at Goulburn Jail.
Bilal Skaf, 26, has been placed in isolation at Goulburn while his 25-year-old brother Mohammed has been transferred to Lithgow Jail.
Skaf is the young man who led a gang of young men in multiple pack rapes in Sydney in the weeks before the 2000 Olympics. Skaf summoned his mates by mobile phone for the attacks. In August 2002, he was convicted on 21 counts of aggravated rape, assault and kidnapping.
The Crown Prosecutor at his trials, Margaret Cunneen, said Skaf’s crimes had left an indelible stain on the psyche of the citizens of NSW. The then Premier, Bob Carr, said Skaf’s then 55-year term was “the sort of sentence the community expects”, while then Opposition Leader John Brogden said he hoped Skaf would rot in jail.
Bilal is due for release in February 2031 and Mohammed can’t apply for parole until January 2018. The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal set new release dates in December after allowing a minor reduction in their sentences.
According to The Age, in 2002 Skaf’s mother, Baria, was barred from visiting all NSW jails after being caught on security video trying to smuggle letters her son had written to his fiancee.
The letters contained sketches of Skaf’s cell and exercise yard and stills from that surveillance appeared in Sydney’s Sun-Herald. In late September of that same year, Skaf’s father, Mustapha, was accused of offering prison officers $100 to talk to his son on a phone.
A senior officer at Goulburn told Crikey a major investigation was underway to discover how two mobiles found now their way into the brothers’ cell, which is in a maximum security area.
Officers rostered in the wing will be interviewed and security videotapes scrutinized, he said.
The Skaf brothers have received visitors in recent weeks but the two prisoners were searched before and after the visits, he added.
For the past decade, NSW Corrective Services Department has waged a high-profile crackdown on the traffic of mobiles into prisons by members of bikie gangs and drug networks.
If caught, inmates face harsh punishment including additional jail time, the loss of visits and other privileges. If prison staff are implicated they face the sack and criminal prosecution.
Earlier this month Goulburn jail hit the headlines when it was revealed that a prison guard thwarted an escape plot by a murderer who spent his nights braiding a 15m rope out of clothing material.
According to The Daily Telegraph, details of the escape plot emerged as the State Government revealed that 1038 NSW prison visitors had been banned over the past 17 months after being found trying to smuggle contraband into jails. Among contraband seized were guns, knives, fake identification papers, drugs, alcohol and cash. Of those caught, 176 people were charged.