Supermax jail for the worst of the worst inmates reopens after massive expansion


When alleged drug kingpin Mostafa Baluch arrives at Goulburn’s Supermax in coming days he might not like most of his fellow residents or appreciate the new surroundings. 

Australia’s most secure jail is a big step down in comfort from Baluch’s $4milllion home at Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches, despite receiving a $12million renovation.

Baluch was arrested on the Queensland border on November 10 as he allegedly tried to flee the country after skipping bail on October 25 by cutting off his anklet bracelet. 

That escapade has meant Baluch will soon be transferred from the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at Silverwater to the New South Wales prison system’s strongest fortress.

The man known as Australia’s Pablo Escobar will spend up to 18 hours a day in a tiny cell where even the temperature of the six-minute showers is controlled from outside.  

Supermax has just undergone a complete upgrade that has almost tripled its capacity to accommodate 121 inmates.

Supermax has undergone a $12million upgrade that almost triples the number of high- risk prisoners it can hold

Supermax has undergone a $12million upgrade that almost triples the number of high- risk prisoners it can hold

New arrival: Alleged drug kingpin Mostafa Baluch will soon be transferred to Supermax

New arrival: Alleged drug kingpin Mostafa Baluch will soon be transferred to Supermax

Prisoners are watched very closely, with upgrades to electronic security including CCTV, telephone and audio monitoring, an X-ray machine and walk-through metal detector

Prisoners are watched very closely, with upgrades to electronic security including CCTV, telephone and audio monitoring, an X-ray machine and walk-through metal detector

Supermax, within the Goulburn Correctional Centre (above), is Australia's most secure jail, housing convicted terrorists, mass killer and organised crime kingpins

Supermax, within the Goulburn Correctional Centre (above), is Australia’s most secure jail, housing convicted terrorists, mass killer and organised crime kingpins

Among its residents are some of the country’s most dangerous prisoners, including terrorists, mass killers and major organised crime figures. 

The jail within a jail is now split into two sections – the High Risk Management Correctional Centre Area 1, housing 75 prisoners, and Area 2, which holds 46 more. 

Area 2 – designed as a ‘step-down’ unit – opened in May last year, to house Supermax offenders who had demonstrated a commitment to disengage from radical behaviour.

All Supermax inmates were strip searched then transferred one by one, locked in hand and ankle cuffs to Area 2 while the larger Area 1 was being rebuilt. 

The expanded facility increases the prison system’s ability to receive and hold terrorist and other high-risk offenders away from general population inmates. 

When the construction of a second Supermax unit was announced it was heralded as a move to ‘future proof the NSW system to handle a new era of terrorist inmate’.

One of the aims of increasing the size of Supermax was to reduce the risk of radicalisation of other prisoners in the state’s jails. 

Area 1 currently holds 43 inmates and Area 2 houses 28 for a total Supermax population of 71. There are 47 inmates in NSW prisons for terror-related offences and almost all of them are at Supermax.  

The original Supermax cost about $20million to build and was opened in September 2001 within the grounds of Goulburn Correctional Centre on the NSW Southern Tablelands.

The cells in the upgraded facility where prisoners spend up to 18 hours a day are small and basic. A mattress sits atop a concrete bed and inmates are provided with two sheets and two thin blankets

The cells in the upgraded facility where prisoners spend up to 18 hours a day are small and basic. A mattress sits atop a concrete bed and inmates are provided with two sheets and two thin blankets

Room service: Some of the  pre-packaged meals provided at Supermax. This Thai vegetable curry was prepared by inmates who work for Corrective Services Industries

Room service: Some of the  pre-packaged meals provided at Supermax. This Thai vegetable curry was prepared by inmates who work for Corrective Services Industries

The new Supermax features a state-of-the-art, fully integrated security management system that extends across the entire prison precinct and perimeter. 

It includes upgrades to electronic security including CCTV, telephone and audio monitoring, an X-ray machine and walk-through metal detector.

Much of the refurbishment work – 15,650 hours of it – was done by minimum security inmates, including construction of walls, ceilings and furniture as well as some plumbing and lighting.  

Acting Corrective Services Commissioner Kevin Corcoran described Supermax as a ‘world class facility’ which could now operate at full capacity .

Mr Corcoran said the original Supermax had quickly become obsolete, having received its first prisoners in the same month as the September 11 terrorism attacks.

Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said the citizens of NSW could ‘sleep a little bit better’ knowing the worst of the worst criminals were securely locked away.

‘None of us likes the fact that we need a place like this,’ Mr Roberts said. ‘But the fact is we do.’

Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said the citizens of NSW could 'sleep a little bit better' knowing the worst of the worst criminals were securely locked away

Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said the citizens of NSW could ‘sleep a little bit better’ knowing the worst of the worst criminals were securely locked away

Most of its occupants now are in jail for terrorism-related offences but a hardcore of criminals who are too violent or disruptive to house in other prisons remains. An exercise yard with a toilet in the corner is pictured

Most of its occupants now are in jail for terrorism-related offences but a hardcore of criminals who are too violent or disruptive to house in other prisons remains. An exercise yard with a toilet in the corner is pictured

While some of Supermax’s inmates were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, most would eventually return to the community.

Before that happened they would hopefully be reintegrated into the mainstream prison population at jails such as Lithgow and the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.   

‘Many prisoners here are not just a danger to society but they’re also a danger to other prisoners when it comes to radicalisation,’ Mr Roberts said.

Governor of the Goulburn complex Wayne Taylor thanked the staff who operate Supermax for doing ‘often difficult work that the community doesn’t see but it keeps them safe.’

When Mr Roberts handed a ceremonial set of keys to Supermax to Mr Taylor at a ceremony on Monday he joked, ‘Don’t lose them’.

Backpacker killer Ivan Milat and a revolving freak show of violent criminals once generated most of the headlines from behind Supermax's bars but that dishonour now falls to prison menace Bassam Hamzy. Milat is pictured at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital in May 2019

Backpacker killer Ivan Milat and a revolving freak show of violent criminals once generated most of the headlines from behind Supermax’s bars but that dishonour now falls to prison menace Bassam Hamzy. Milat is pictured at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital in May 2019

Goulburn's Supermax is formally known as the High Risk Management Correctional Centre and is now divided into two sections - Area 1 and Area 2

Goulburn’s Supermax is formally known as the High Risk Management Correctional Centre and is now divided into two sections – Area 1 and Area 2

Daily Mail Australia was given a tour of the expanded Area 1 on Monday after a formal re-opening ceremony outside its forbidding walls. 

No one has ever escaped from Supermax. Asked if he could guarantee that would never happen Mr Roberts said: ‘This is the most secure facility in the nation, probably arguably in the Southern Hemisphere’.

‘Can I say as you tour the facility here today, you’d have to be a pretty extraordinary individual to escape from this place.

‘And I don’t think you’re going to see Spider-Man or Superman or the Incredible Hulk in there. I don’t think you get any more secure than this.’ 

A NSW Corrective Services spokeswoman previously described Supermax as an ‘integral part’ of the state’s penal system.

No-one has ever escaped from Supermax, and no one has been killed within its walls. New hatches (above) on cell doors have increased security

No-one has ever escaped from Supermax, and no one has been killed within its walls. New hatches (above) on cell doors have increased security 

'This is the most secure facility in the nation, probably arguably in the Southern Hemisphere,' Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said. Security manager Stuart Lyle is pictured

 ‘This is the most secure facility in the nation, probably arguably in the Southern Hemisphere,’ Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said. Security manager Stuart Lyle is pictured

‘It is designed to accommodate male inmates who have been found to be an extreme high risk to the good order, safety and security of other correctional centres,’ she said.

It also housed inmates who were a ‘serious threat of escape, detained under national security provisions, or are considered high public profile.’

‘Regular multidisciplinary reviews of inmate behaviour within the centre are used to determine their progress through the three stages of the behaviour management program. 

‘Psychology, education, counselling and welfare support services are provided.’

Among Supermax’s first inmates were several who were sentenced to die in jail: backpacker killer Ivan Milat, mass murderer Malcolm Baker and five-time killer Lindsey Rose. 

Rose, who is serving five life sentences for a killing spree from 1984 to 1994, has since been moved out of Supermax, as has Baker, who shot dead six people on the Central Coast in 1992.

A multiple-purpose dog whose skills include detecting the lithium in mobile phone batteries is pictured with his handler at Supermax

A multiple-purpose dog whose skills include detecting the lithium in mobile phone batteries is pictured with his handler at Supermax

All inmates are handcuffed before being moved out of their cells and are supervised by at least three officers. A prison escort LandCruiser is pictured

All inmates are handcuffed before being moved out of their cells and are supervised by at least three officers. A prison escort LandCruiser is pictured 

Most of its occupants now are in jail for terrorism-related offences but a hardcore of criminals who are too violent or disruptive to house in other prisons remains. 

Since Milat’s death in October 2019 the most notorious inmate in Supermax has been Brothers 4 Life gang founder and ISIS sympathiser Bassam Hamzy.

Hamzy was originally jailed over a 1998 shooting murder and a constant source of trouble while in custody.

He established Brothers 4 Life while in prison and ran a drug ring from his former Lithgow cell.

Vester Fernando is another notorious Supermax inmate who is unlikely to ever leave the jail.

He and cousin Brendan Fernando raped and killed nurse Sandra Hoare at Walgett in the state’s north west in 1994. Five years later Vester stabbed Brendan to death in Lithgow prison. 

Vester was eventually allowed out of Supermax but after stabbing an inmate at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in April 2020 found himself back in there. 

When Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts handed a ceremonial set of keys (pictured) to Supermax to Governor Wayne Taylor at a ceremony on Monday he joked, 'Don't lose them'

When Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts handed a ceremonial set of keys (pictured) to Supermax to Governor Wayne Taylor at a ceremony on Monday he joked, ‘Don’t lose them’

Sydney crime boss and double murderer Adnan Darwiche is serving his sentence in Supermax

Vester Fernando raped and murdered nurse Sandra Hoare at Walgett with his cousin Brendan Fernando in 1994.

Sydney crime boss and double murderer Adnan Darwiche (left) is serving his sentence in Supermax. Vester Fernando, (right) who raped and murdered nurse Sandra Hoare at Walgett with his cousin Brendan Fernando in 1994, has been in and out of Supermax. He is back in now

Another killer experiencing a second stint at Supermax is Malcolm Naden who went on the run for seven years after killing his cousin Lateesha Nolan and neighbour Kristy Scholes at Dubbo in 2005 

Gangster Michael Kanaan, who is serving life without the possibility of parole for three 1998 murders, is a long-term Supermax inhabitant. 

Cop killer Sione Penisini, crime boss and double murderer Adnan Darwiche are current residents, as is Carl Little after he bashed a Silverwater prison officer in 2006.

Darwiche, who is serving life, had allegedly sold rocket launchers stolen from a defence force base to Mohamed Ali Elomar while the pair was still at liberty. 

Penisini, who shot dead Senior Constable Glenn McEnallay at Hillsdale in 2002, was transferred to Supermax after having an intimate relationship with a female officer at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.

ISIS supporter Bourhan Hraiche was transferred to Supermax after carving ‘E4E’ – ‘an eye for an eye’ – into the forehead of an inmate at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in 2016.  

Former Brothers 4 Life gang member Farhad ‘The Afghan’ Qaumi is still in Supermax, where he is not allowed to associate with his sworn foe Hamzy.

Each cell contains a concrete bed with a foam mattress, a small desk, one chair, a seat-less stainless steel toilet and sink with a shower nozzle above. A desk is pictured

Each cell contains a concrete bed with a foam mattress, a small desk, one chair, a seat-less stainless steel toilet and sink with a shower nozzle above. A desk is pictured

Brothers 4 Life gang founder and killer Bassam Hamzy is one of the most dangerous inmates in Australia and calls Supermax home

The late serial killer Ivan Milat murdered seven backpackers in the Belanglo State Forest between 1989 and 1992 and was among the first inmates in Supermax

The changing face of Supermax: Brothers 4 Life gang founder and killer Bassam Hamzy (left) is one of the most dangerous inmates in Australia. The late serial killer Ivan Milat (right) murdered seven backpackers in the Belanglo State Forest between 1989 and 1992 and spent almost two decades in Supermax 

Kevin Pettiford, who is charged with murdering a homeless man at Tweed Heads in November 2019 and the attempted murder of another inmate at Shortland jail near Cessnock the next month, is a relatively recent addition. 

Mert Ney, who stabbed a woman in Sydney in 2019 before going on a rampage through the CBD, has been transferred to Supermax because he is difficult to manage. 

These men will soon be joined by newly minted criminal celebrity Baluch, who was flown down from Queensland under heavy security after his arrest. 

The 33-year-old is accused of financing the importation of 900kg of cocaine from Ecuador with a potential street value of $270million.

He may soon be rethinking his decision to embarrass authorities with what police allege was an attempt to avoid trial and link up with criminal connections overseas.  

Baluch will seat, shower and sleep in his cell and cherish what little time he has outside. 

Supermax now has eight exercise yards where inmates can gather two at a time. Each yard has a steel mesh canopy to prevent items being thrown over the wall or dropped by drone. 

A prisoner using one of the yards can take with him a bottle of water, two religious items such as a prayer mat and cap, a handball, radio and towel. 

Goulburn, Australia's first inland city, is 197km south-west of Sydney and about 90km north-east of Canberra. The Supermax prison sits within the larger Goulburn Correctional Centre 

Goulburn, Australia’s first inland city, is 197km south-west of Sydney and about 90km north-east of Canberra. The Supermax prison sits within the larger Goulburn Correctional Centre 

Terrorist Khaled Cheikho, who is serving 27 years in jail for his crimes, has in the past been allowed to associate with ISIS sympathiser Bassam Hamzy

Former Brothers 4 Life gang member Farhad 'The Afghan' Qaumi is not allowed anywhere near Hamzy in Supermax

Terrorist Khaled Cheikho (left), who is serving 27 years in jail for his crimes, has in the past been allowed to associate with ISIS sympathiser Bassam Hamzy. Former Brothers 4 Life gang member Farhad ‘The Afghan’ Qaumi (right) is not allowed anywhere near Hamzy in Supermax

Inmates cannot leave their cells without being handcuffed and new hatches in cell doors allow that to be done while they are sill locked away.

Prisoners are moved to a new cell every 28 days and three staff accompany an individual inmate at any one time. 

Each cell contains a concrete bed with a foam mattress, a small desk, one chair, a seat-less stainless steel toilet and sink with a shower nozzle above. 

A tiny television sits behind perspex on a shelf.

At least 80 per cent of Supermax’s population is Muslim and most of those prisoners pray five times a day.   

Inmates convicted of terrorism-related offences are classified AA – the highest security rating in the system. 

Most Supermax inmates are also designated Extreme High Risk – Restricted (EHRR) or fall under the National Security Interest (NSI) designation.

All EHRR offenders must conduct their visits, mail and phone calls in English (unless given special approval) and all visitors must undergo criminal record checks. 



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