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How the Skaf brothers obtained mobile phones

| 29.05,09. 03:50 AM |

How the Skaf brothers obtained mobile phones

May 29, 2009 12:00am

THE gang rapist Skaf brothers prised apart a steel cabinet to hide two mobile phones in their maximum security jail cell.

The details of the pair's underhanded concealment methods emerged last night as prison authorities remained baffled as to how two of the country's most notorious criminals smuggled phones into Goulburn prison.

One option being considered is that the phones were thrown over the prison walls, which Corrective Services senior officer Don Rodgers admitted could occur.

The phones' discovery last night led Commissioner Ron Woodham to vow that Bilal, 27, and Mohammed, 26, will never see each other again while they are behind bars.

Gallery and video: Come inside Goulburn's Supermax prison

"No. Never. They'll be in different jails and they'll never be together again," he said.

Both were strip-searched after the phones were found and moved into segregation where they will stay for two to three months until the investigation is complete.

Mohammed was moved to Lithgow jail and Bilal will remain in Goulburn jail's segregation section. One of the phones had a SIM card, making it live. There was no reason to believe it had not been used.

Prison investigators will use the SIM card from the Skafs' phone to work out how many calls were made, to whom and, possible, how long it has been in the jail.

There was speculation in Corrective Services that the calls would be more of a personal nature than criminal.

Prison officers only became aware of the smuggled contraband after a tip-off led to a raid on several cells on Tuesday morning.

The brothers, who shared a cell, had managed to drill out the rivets on a cabinet which has a tubular steel frame and sheet metal covering it.

They had popped one of the sheets off the bottom of the cabinet, hidden the phones on the frame and then placed the sheet metal skin back over it.

"After that we've ramped up the searches in the jail and pulled apart every piece of furniture in all the cells," Mr Woodham said.

"We had a special team brought down from Sydney to get involved and we had about 80 to 90 officers from different areas sent in to do the search."

While Prisons Minister John Robertson yesterday said the discovery of the phones showed the "system actually works", the State Government was criticised that two notorious criminals, guilty of the worst pack rapes in NSW, were able to get phones in jail.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said that the Government had a lot of explaining to do.

"What we know is they've been found in one of the most secure prisons in this state and they are owned, apparently, by two of the state's most notorious rapists," he said.

"When courts send serial rapists like the Skaf brothers to jail . . . there is meant to be punishment. The public does not expect them to have access to mobile phones."

The Government hopes to reduce the problems with mobile phone smuggling by creating jamming systems at its jails.

Mr Robertson said he hoped to receive approval from the Federal Government to trial a system at Lithgow jail. He also said the system that allows siblings to stay in the same cells was also being reviewed.

Southwest region corrective services assistant commissioner John Dunthorne said the Skafs were together because: "It's very hard to place any Skaf in any jail and certainly not with any other inmate. Nobody wants a bar of them."

The Daily Telegraph



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