Notorious pack rapist Mohammed Skaf has been released from prison after serving two decades behind bars to go home to his parents, with hopes of starting a family of his own.
Skaf left Sydney’s Long Bay correctional complex on Wednesday morning after spending most of his life in custody and having never publicly expressed remorse for his crimes.
He walked from the Metropolitan Special Programs Centre about 9.45am wearing a white Hugo Boss top, black track pants, sunglasses and Covid-19 mask before stepping into a Toyota Corolla driven by a Corrective Services officer.
Reporters asked ‘Are you happy to be free?’ and ‘Are you sorry for what you’ve done?’ but but he did not respond.
He was driven to his family’s home at Greenacre in Sydney’s south-west where he will live with his parents, sister and younger brother.
‘I’m not a rapist,’ Skaf said two years ago after yet again being refused parole. ‘How can I have empathy for someone that wasn’t raped by me?
‘I’ve maintained my innocence for the last 19 years and I’ll maintain my innocence until the day I die.’
Skaf has supposedly accepted some responsibility for his actions since he made those comments and indicated a wish to get married, have children, find a job and study architecture.
Notorious pack rapist Mohammed Skaf walks out of Sydney’s Long Bay correctional complex on Wednesday morning after spending most of his life in custody
After serving two decades behind bars, Skaf (centre) will go home to his parents, with hopes of starting a family of his own
Skaf wore an ankle monitor as he walked out of prison, as his strict parole conditions include 24-hour electronic tracking
As well as 24-hour electronic monitoring, Skaf will have to keep to a daily schedule and comply with ongoing psychological intervention
When he was first locked up as a teenager there was no Facebook or Instagram and no smart phones. The World Trade Centre was still standing and John Howard was not even halfway through his four terms as prime minister.
‘The world has changed,’ Skaf said in 2019. ‘I’m still living in the early 2000s.’
Skaf was one of gang of Lebanese-Australian youths led by his older brother Bilal who went on a rampage of pack rapes in Sydney’s south-west in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Olympic Games.
At least six women and girls were held against their will and repeatedly sexually assaulted in four attacks that shocked Australia and raised racial tensions to fever pitch in NSW.
Gang rapist Mohammed Skaf has left prison after serving almost 21 years in jail
One woman was raped 25 times by 14 attackers at three locations as she was called an ‘Aussie pig’ in an ordeal that lasted six hours.
Skaf, who was convicted in relation to two of the rapes, was 17 at the time of the offences and is now 38. His brother Bilal was almost 19 and is now 40.
Original sentencing judge Michael Finnane, who jailed Mohammed for 32 years in October 2002, described the gang’s crimes as ‘worse than murder’.
Following a series of further convictions and appeals that term was reduced to a maximum of 22 years, 11 months and 30 days.
Skaf’s non-parole period on 16 years, 11 months and 30 days expired on January 1, 2018, more than three and a half years ago.
His maximum sentence does not expire until January 1, 2024 but due to due to Covid-19 restrictions he has been unable to complete pre-release external leave programs.
If Skaf served his full term in prison authorities would have had no control over his reintegration back into the community when he finally got out.
A decision was therefore made to grant Skaf parole so he could be closely supervised while living with his family.
An artist’s impression of Mohammed Skaf at a hearing before the State Parole Authority in February. The SPA determined freeing Mohammed at the end of his 23-year sentence in early 2024 without any conditions would have posed an unacceptable risk to society
Mohammed Skaf (right) was released on Wednesday from Long Bay jail. Bilal Skaf (left) will be eligible for parole in 2033. He is serving a minimum term of 28 years with a maximum of 31
Skaf’s sister, who along with his mother was recently diagnosed with Covid-19, told Daily Mail Australia the family was ready to welcome her brother home.
‘We’re looking forward to him coming home and hopefully he’ll start a life that we’ve never experienced before,’ she said. ‘We’re pretty excited and happy for him to come home.’
Skaf had lately been held in the minimum-security Kirkconnell Correctional Centrex, about 180km west of Sydney, between Lithgow and Bathurst.
He was moved to Long Bay late last week ahead of his release on parole.
Skaf was considered a low to medium risk of ‘general re-offending’ but one Corrective Services psychologist assessed him as in the ‘well above average’ range of committing further sex offences.
Skaf emerges from Long Bay jail wearing a face mask, his first taste of freedom in more than 20 years
As well as 24-hour electronic monitoring, Skaf will have to keep to a daily schedule and comply with ongoing psychological intervention.
Skaf was flanked by a corrections officer and lawyers as he walked to a waiting car
Skaf tried to avoid the cameras as he got into the car to be driven to his mother’s home
Earlier this year he was engaged in 30 days of work on community projects at Bathurst showground and local churches and was reported to have toiled diligently.
He had completed the High Intensity Sex Offenders Program in a ‘satisfactory manner’ and the Real Understanding Self Help course where he was described as a ‘consistently committed participant’.
The State Parole Authority (SPA) granted Skaf’s release on September 17 under strict conditions including 24-hour electronic monitoring.
‘Every determinate sentence imposed by a court comes to an end,’ the authority said in a statement. ‘Ordinarily, release is inevitable.
‘It is clearly important to provide some structure to facilitate re-integration in the interests of community safety.
‘Release without the opportunity for structure or supervision makes little sense in terms of community protection.’
Skaf’s mother and younger sister were recently diagnosed with Covid and were self-isolating at their Greenacre home (pictured) along with his father and younger brother
Skaf’s sister said the family was excited about 38-year-old Mohammed’s release on parole. ‘We’re looking forward to him coming home and hopefully he’ll start a life that we’ve never experienced before,’ she said. The Skaf family home is pictured
Skaf’s behaviour in prison had significant improved over the past two years and he retained strong family support.
‘It is also reported that there has been a considerable shift in the applicant’s understanding of the aggravated sexual assault conviction, to the extent that he accepts that “perhaps” consent had not been given by the victim,’ the SPA found.
‘The applicant reflected that he “was then 17 years and is now 38 and he would never be in that situation again”.
‘The authority accepts that there has been some belated attitudinal shift, but not such as constitutes any real acknowledgement of the gross criminal conduct described by the sentencing judges.’
Skaf has been offered post-release employment and his family’s recently renovated home was previously assessed as suitable by Community Corrections.
The Skaf family home is about 1.7km from Gosling Park (above) where one of the Skaf gang’s pack rapes occurred on August 12, 2000. Mohammed lured a 16-year-old girl to the park where Bilal and another gang member raped her while a dozen others stood around laughing.
The gang, led by Bilal Skaf, took two teenagers aged 17 and 18 to a toilet block at Northcote Park, Greenacre, where they were raped by eight men on August 10, 2000. The park, which is 750m from the Skaf family home, is pictured
Community Corrections reviewed that arrangement after youngest sibling Hadi pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
It is understood the difference between the nature of Mohammed and 22-year-old Hadi’s offending would not stop the former staying in the family home.
The Skafs live on a quiet bottlebrush-lined street about 1.7km from Gosling Park where one of the gang’s pack rapes was committed on August 12, 2000.
Mohammed had lured a 16-year-old girl he knew to the park where Bilal and a second gang member raped her while a dozen more young men stood around laughing.
Hadi Skaf, whose older brothers are notorious pack rapists Bilal and Mohammed Skaf, has been caught supplying cocaine in Sydney
The second gang member held a gun to the teen’s head and kicked her in the stomach before she was able to escape.
Less than three weeks after the Gosling Park attack, on August 30, 2000, Mohammed was the leader of four young men who approached an 18-year-old woman at Bankstown train station.
Skaf took the woman’s phone and led her to public toilets in nearby Marion Street where he told her: ‘You won’t get your phone back until you f*** me.’
When the young woman refused Skaf said, ‘I’m going to f*** you Leb-style’, turned her around and raped her against a wall.
The SPA described the following ‘horrendous’ assaults committed upon the victim by the rest of the gang that night as violent, degrading and disgusting.
The woman was raped 25 times by 14 attackers at three locations in an ordeal that lasted six hours. She was asked if ‘Leb c*** tasted better than Aussie c***’ before being sprayed with an industrial hose.
Judge Finnane had compared the Skaf gang’s depravity to outrages committed by invading armies in times of war.
‘These were not random attacks and, in my view, they were aimed at creating terror in the community,’ Judge Finnane found.
Bilal Skaf led a gang of young Lebanese-Australian males on a pack rape spree across Sydney’s south west in 2000. He is pictured outside the NSW Supreme Court in July 2006
He described Skaf as a menace to civilised society, and while Bilal – who was not eligible for parole until 2033 – had been the gang’s nominal commander, Mohammed had also taken a leadership role.
‘As the facts show, he, although quite young, is a vicious, cowardly bully, arrogant and a liar, as well as being a rapist,’ Judge Finnane said.
The SPA noted Judge Finnane found Skaf had shown no remorse and continued to blame the victims for his crimes during his trials, observing he had been an ‘arrogant and nasty individual in custody’.
The SPA had no legislative power to hold Skaf in prison beyond the end of his full 23-year sentence but could keep him under supervision by granting parole.
While acknowledging the distress that decision might cause Skaf’s victims and the wider community, careful consideration had to be given to reintegrating him into the community.
SPA chairman David Frearson SC said intensive supervision for the last two years and two months of Skaf’s maximum sentence was the safest available option.
‘This is the only opportunity to supervise a safe transition into the community in the small window of time that we have left,’ Judge Frearson said.
‘Release without structure or supervision makes little sense for community protection.’
Mohammed Skaf had his sperm frozen while in custody at Long Bay jail (pictured) before undergoing cancer treatment so he could still father children when he got out. He was told chemotherapy would make him infertile and was ‘devastated’ at the prospect of being childless
Skaf’s sperm was frozen and stored – at no cost to him – shortly after he was jailed over a series of horrifying pack rapes in Sydney’s south west in 2000. The now 38-year-old was treated for cancer at a secure unit of Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick in Sydney’s east (pictured)
As well as 24-hour electronic monitoring, Skaf will have to keep to a daily schedule and comply with ongoing psychological intervention.
He is banned from any form of contact with his victims or co-offenders and cannot visit the Liverpool, Fairfield, Blacktown or Parramatta council areas.
The Skaf family home is within the nearby Canterbury-Bankstown local government boundaries.
Community Corrections pre-release reports confirmed there had been a ‘significant improvement’ in Skaf’s behaviour and attitude towards his offending.
Skaf had his sperm frozen early in his sentence before undergoing chemotherapy so he could still father children after he was let out of jail.
He was rendered infertile following the treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma but the sperm sample was kept in storage.
Skaf’s plans to have children after his brush with cancer were detailed in a NSW Court of Criminal Appeal judgment handed down in September 2005.
He was diagnosed with cancer in November 2002, a month after his original sentence was imposed, and underwent six months of chemotherapy.
Original sentencing judge, Michael Finnane, compared the Skaf gang’s depravity to outrages committed by invading armies in times of war and said their crimes were ‘worse than murder’
Skaf claimed his health scare ‘made him more compassionate and understanding of other people’s pain and suffering, particularly those trying to combat cancer’, according to the CCA’s findings.
The same judgement revealed Skaf moaning about being separated from his family and not having fresh fruit and vegetables to eat as he battled the disease.
The CCA noted Skaf felt ‘isolated’ and ‘dehumanised’, and wept as he tried to cope with his ‘day-to-day mental and physical suffering’.
The chemotherapy was successful but Skaf complained he still faced the likelihood of not being able to have sons and daughters of his own.
Skaf gang rapes were ‘worse than murder’
Bilal Skaf led a gang of more than a dozen young Lebanese Australians who committed four pack rapes on six teenagers in late 2000.
Among the gang members was Bilal’s younger brother Mohammed.
One of the victims, an 18-year-old woman, was raped 25 times by 14 gang members over six hours in an attack coordinated by mobile phone. She was then dumped at a train station after being hosed down.
During her ordeal the woman was called an ‘Aussie pig’, told she was going to be raped ‘Leb-style’ and asked if ‘Leb c*** tasted better than Aussie c***’.
Judge Michael Finnane compared the Skaf gang’s depravity to outrages committed by invading armies in times of war and said their crimes were ‘worse than murder’.
‘These were not random attacks and, in my view, they were aimed at creating terror in the community,’ Judge Finnane said.
‘It seemed clear to me that these men were sending out a message to the community in Sydney. Skaf and the members of this gang clearly wanted public recognition for what they had done.’
None of the rapists expressed any remorse for their crimes at their trials.
Only Bilal Skaf is still in jail for the attacks.
Some of the rapists have never been identified and police fear there were more victims who did not come forward.
Skaf said doctors felt he was probably sterile for the rest of his life and the sperm sample taken before his chemotherapy could only be stored for ten years.
[There is no definitive time limit for a high-quality sperm sample to remain viable after being frozen inside liquid nitrogen. There have been successful pregnancies from sperm frozen for more than 20 years].
‘The applicant has deposed that he is “devastated” by the information that he is now sterile and that he is having medication for depression and that he feels “constantly stressed”,’ the CCA found.
A clinical psychologist who assessed Skaf in October 2003 recorded his reaction to facing the disease and treatment.
‘During his life threatening and extremely debilitating illness, Mr Skaf had to endure limited reassurance and comfort from his family, which is normally considered necessary for a successful recovery from a serious cancer,’ the psychologist wrote.
‘Mr Skaf told me that on several occasions he lost his composure and cried.’
At the same time, Skaf complained he did not have access to education programs ‘to keep his mind occupied’, the psychologist reported.
‘Mr Skaf told me that during the acute phase of his treatment, he had been tempted to end his life but that the thought of the pain this would cause his parents and his siblings and this stopped him.’
‘Mr Skaf is a depressed and anxious young man who is trying to recover from a life threatening lymphatic cancer.
‘Since his serious life threatening illness, Mr Skaf appears to demonstrate greater insight into other people’s suffering and struggles.
‘He expressed the desire to understand and explore the meaning of his life and the possibilities for a future constructive life.’
It is not known if the sperm sample taken from Skaf is still viable.
Skaf gang rampage: A timeline
Gang rapist Bilal Skaf pictured in Goulburn’s Supermax prison with his mother who was banned by prison authorities after she smuggled letters from her son out of the jail
August 10, 2000: Two teenagers aged 17 and 18 were offered drugs. They were taken by car to the gang, who were waiting at Northcote Park in Greenacre. The pair was forced to perform sex acts on eight men.
August 12, 2000: Mohammed Skaf took a 16-year-old friend to his brother and friends at Gosling Park, Greenacre. Bilal Skaf and another male raped the girl in front of 12 men.
August 30, 2000: An 18-year-old woman was raped at Bankstown by Mohammed Skaf who told her he was going to ‘f**k her Leb style’. She was taken to two other locations and raped and assaulted by 14 men for six hours.
September 4, 2000: 16-year-old girls were taken from Beverly Hills train station to a home where they were repeatedly raped by three men over a five-hour period.