One of NSW’s most dangerous criminals Bassam Hamzy has been caught with a mobile phone within the state’s highest security jail for the second time in two weeks.
Hamzy, an extremely high-risk inmate who founded the notorious street gang Brothers 4 Life while in prison, was caught with the phone in his cell at Goulburn SuperMax on Thursday night.
The discovery of another phone in SuperMax has raised questions about how contraband continues to make its way into NSW prisons and has led Corrective Services to announce the introduction of mobile phone jamming at the high-security facility.
It is understood Hamzy was using the phone when corrective services officers raided his cell on Thursday night. He tried to flush the phone down the toilet but the officers had cut the water to his cell in anticipation of this.
“Staff approached the cell by stealth, which caught the inmate off guard,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Angie West said.
The phone’s discovery was made two weeks after a seven centimetre mobile linked to Hamzy was discovered concealed within the spine of a book inside the library at SuperMax.
That discovery is believed to have been of interest to national security agencies with Hamzy converting to radical Islam while an inmate.
The convicted killer is detained at SuperMax because he was caught with a mobile phone while a maximum security prisoner at Lithgow jail in 2008. He used that phone to make 450 calls a day over a two-month period to direct the supply of massive amounts of drugs between Sydney and Melbourne and orchestrate the intimidation of others.
The phone was also passed around his Lithgow cell block using dental floss.
Corrective Services said the discovery of the phone on Thursday was a result of “ramped up efforts to detect and remove” phones from the jail after the phone was found in the library on September 16.
The latest discovery was made after a hand-held mobile phone detector picked up mobile phone signals.
Acting Assistant Commissioner West said prisoners “go to extraordinary lengths to introduce contraband” and an inmate mostly likely smuggled the phone into the prison through “internal secretion methods”.
“Inmates who gain access to contraband when housed at other correctional centres have been known to secrete items internally and our staff cannot undertake internal searches,” Ms West said.
Corrective Services said it was working on a plan to introduce mobile phone jamming at Goulburn jail. The same technology, which involves dozens of antennas installed into prison cell blocks to prevent mobile signals, has been trialled at Lithgow jail since 2013.
“With funding now available to extend that Lithgow trial to Goulburn … inmates will soon not have the same incentives to smuggle mobile phones into the centre,” Ms West said.
Corrective Services Minister David Elliott said effective phone jamming technology is the “ultimate answer to this problem” and it would be in place at Goulburn next year.
“I congratulate the officers on the investigation which uncovered this latest mobile phone,” he said.
Opposition prisons spokesman Guy Zangari said the government had dragged its feet on introducing mobile phone jamming into prisons and had failed on a commitment to have full-body scanners for visitors at all maximum and medium security prisons by the end of last year.
“It is just amazing that we have one of the most notorious criminals in SuperMax having access to a mobile phone,” he said.