Serial Sydney rapist Mohammed Skaf will be granted parole after spending more than 20 years behind bars. Skaf was 17 when he and his older brother Bilal Skaf lead a gang of 14 young men who terrorised and raped Sydney schoolgirls in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Olympics.
The younger Skaf, now 36, was sentenced to 22 years 11 months 30 days with a non-parole period of 16 years, which expires in January 2024.
His three previous attempts at parole had been refused but on Friday, Judge David Frearson said parole with strict conditions was the only way forward.
The NSW State Parole Authority (SPA) said there had been two “viable pathways” for his successful reintegration into the community; external leave or release on parole. However, Covid-19 restrictions meant external leave was no longer an option.
The SPA said it had initially planned to refuse Skaf parole but granted a review hearing, requesting advice from the Serious Offenders Review Council (SORC) and Community Corrections.
The SORC said it preferred Skaf to be released via gradual reintegration into society through external leave programs such as supervised day, weekend and work leave. But Covid-19 restrictions, resulting in the cancellation of all external leave programs in NSW prisons, had effectively “extinguished” that option.
SPA Chairman Judge Frearson, SC, told the court the second pathway – release to supervised parole – was the only option now.
The SPA says it won’t make Skaf’s parole official until he completes a rehabilitation program aimed at helping him integrate back into society. His release will also be subject to intensive supervision and stringent conditions, including the mandatory electronic monitoring.
The Skaf brothers and other members of the notorious gang were arrested on October 7, 2000, months after their first attack on August 4, when they assaulted a 14-year-old girl. In the weeks that followed they raped and assaulted teenage girls across Sydney, subjecting them to physical violence and verbal abuse.
One victim told the court during a trail that her attackers had called her an “Aussie pig”. Another was raped 25 times by different members of the gang before being sprayed with a fire hose.
The older Skaf brother, Bilal, was originally sentenced to 55 years behind bars, but had his sentence reduced to 28 years on appeal.