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Puny brother a cowardly bully

By Sarah Crichton
October 11 2002


"He got what he deserved" ... above, a police photo of Mohammed Skaf, and below, one of the victims leaves court yesterday under police protection. Photo: Robert Pearce

Mohammed Skaf slouched in the dock with the harmless look of a teenager loitering at any suburban shopping centre.

Yet, Sydney's District Court heard yesterday, the puny 165 centimetre teen was in fact a violent, callous individual capable of unbelievable arrogance, "the instigator, the lure, or the bait", for two of Sydney's notorious August 2000 gang rapes.

"Mohammed Skaf ... is a vicious, cowardly bully, arrogant and a liar - as well as being a rapist," began Judge Michael Finnane, before sentencing the 19-year-old to a maximum of 32 years' jail, to be served in an adult prison.

He will be eligible for parole on January 2, 2021 - making his minimum term exactly half that of his elder brother, Bilal, the gang ringleader.

Noting the younger Skaf's similar lack of remorse, Judge Finnane said: "It is hard to believe that young men brought up in modern Australia could behave so much like wild animals."

He rejected a submission that Skaf be allowed to serve time in a juvenile justice centre until 21.

His lawyer, Richard Jankowski, had argued that extra restrictions were likely to be imposed on Skaf for his protection in an adult jail. Initial detention at a juvenile centre, he said, would give Skaf one opportunity to develop vocational skills for his eventual release into the community. It would also enable him to undertake a weights program "to give himself an even chance" in adult jail.

Skaf, whose identity was suppressed until yesterday because of his age at the time the crimes were committed, was the teenager who, with four others, lured an 18-year-old from a train at Bankstown on August 30, 2000.

Later, as the first of 14 to rape her that day and having stolen her mobile phone, he told her: "You won't get your phone back until you f--- me." He then thrust her face-first into a toilet block wall and declared: "I'm going to f--- you Leb-style."

The prosecutor, Margaret Cunneen, said Skaf was "so brazen, so arrogant, so unmoved" by the miserable plight into which he had lured the woman that he returned near the end of the six-hour ordeal - in which she was raped 25 times - to sexually assault her again.

Speaking outside court yesterday, the victim said of Skaf's sentence: "He got what he deserved. If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't have been raped that day."

Judge Finnane said that while plainly influenced by his brother, Bilal - 20 months his senior and with whom he was close - Mohammed Skaf nonetheless played a leadership role in that attack and one 18 days earlier.

On August 12 he had gone to the home of a 16-year-old girl he had befriended six months earlier. On the pretence of taking her on a drive to the city, he abused the trust she and her mother had placed in him as a decent young man who had always been polite and well-mannered, and lured her instead to Greenacre's Gosling Park.

With arrangements already in place - via almost constant mobile phone contact with his brother - the younger Skaf adopted various ruses to calm her nerves and keep her at the park until his brother and 10 others arrived.

Then he left, abandoning her as his elder brother grabbed her by the hair and, calling "Yallah [let's go] boys", with the others dragged her across the park. They then stripped her, assaulted her and held her down as she was raped by the elder Skaf and another man.

During the attack she had a gun pointed at her. She managed to escape but was hunted down at a nearby telephone box. Again the gun was pointed at her and she was ordered into a vehicle before a stranger appeared, forcing the gang to flee.

For aiding and abetting this attack, the younger Skaf was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years, with a non-parole period of nine years.

Two reports tendered in court yesterday indicate his ongoing contempt for his victims and women, particularly female authority figures. He had made sexually inappropriate remarks to female staff at the Kariong juvenile facility and continued to blame the victims for initially agreeing to go with him.

"[They] were not good either, since they came out with us as soon as I asked them," he told one officer.

Ms Cunneen said Skaf represented "a grievous long-term danger to the community".

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