Bilal Skaf’s Attempt At Freedom Denied

Bilal skaf

Bilal Skaf’s Attempt At Freedom Denied

BACKGROUND

Mohammed Skaf has had his latest attempt for freedom knocked back by the New South Wales Parole Authority. The decision was refused based on the Serious Offenders Review Council assessment of Skaf not participating in an external leave program. This program was to assist offenders of this nature to reintegration into the community but was put on hold due to COVID-19.This was his third attempt for parole but a pre-release report stated that he ‘has demonstrated no change in his attitude toward his offences since the beginning of his sentence’ and ‘continues to blame the victims’.

Mohammed was only 17 when him and other 14 co-offenders, including his brother Bilal raped and sexually assaulted six school girls in early 2000. One of the victims was an 18-year woman who was raped 40 times by 14 men for a period of four hours that was organised through text messages. Justice Michael Finnane who overheard the hearing, claimed the offences was “worse than murder” and sentenced the offenders totalling more than 240 years. Mohammad Skaf was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 17 years for his involvement of these offences.

He will be allowed to have consideration for another application in November 2020.

BAIL ACT

Section 18 of the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) sets out factors that the Court must consider on whether they will grant bail. The most recent Memorandum by Chief Magistrate lists the current changes and the impact Covid-19 has had on the court processes.

FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACT

The most recent case to deal with this epidemic was Rakielbakhour V DPP [2020] NSWSC323. In this case, the Court analysed the elements that was argued for the need of bail under our current climate which include:

  • Section 18(1)(a) which requires an examination of the personal circumstances to your case that would be of potential risk if remained in custody. These are matters like being potentially exposed for infection, depending on your current health conditions.
  • Section 18(1)(h) refers to the length or delay of the accused that has been severely impacted due to measures brought in by the Government and the length of time you will be in remand before your matter is going to be heard. This is consistent with the Courts memorandum to safe keep our judicial officers as well as members of the public.
  • Section 18(1)(l) refers towards the accused needing to prepare the appearance for Court and to seek legal advice. Currently all legal visits in NSW prisons are being conducted by Video link. This has caused considerable pressure on the Correctional Centre because many of the matters are being dealt with by way of video link and the number of available audio-visual suites is finite.

These unprecedented times have left the Court to take factors and measures to ensure the safety of the public, including those awaiting trial. This does not ensure a guaranteed release of bail but has been taken as considerable weight to the climate our nation faces during these tough times.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU OR YOUR FAMILY ARE CURRENTLY HELD IN REMAND?

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