Underworld figure Tony Mokbel is in a critical condition with serious head injuries after he was knocked unconscious and stabbed in an attack by two other inmates at Victoria’s maximum-security Barwon Prison.
- CCTV footage showed “punches and stabbing actions” during the attack
- Prison staff responded in “under 10 seconds”, the Corrections Commissioner said
- Mokbel was sentenced to 30 years’ jail in 2012 for his role in an elaborate drug syndicate
The high-security prison remains in lockdown after Mokbel, 53, and another inmate, 31, were attacked around 4:00pm on Monday.
The ABC understands Mokbel suffered a stab wound to the chest during the attack, before he was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition at 10:00am.
Victoria’s Commissioner for Corrections, Emma Cassar, said CCTV footage of the attack showed “punches and stabbing actions” as two men attacked Mokbel as he returned to his cell from the prison’s main unit.
“Tony was certainly knocked unconscious [according to] the CCTV. Within seconds, and certainly I can say confidently under 10 seconds, the first staff member responded,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“They provided medical assistance to Tony Mokbel and quickly secured the two suspects who were taken away.”
She said three homemade weapons, known as shivs, were found and handed over to Victoria Police, who were investigating the attack.
The two suspects were separated within moments of the attack and are being interviewed by police and prison staff.
They have been moved into the high-security unit at the prison.
Despite Mokbel’s critical condition, Dr Cassar said she did not believe his injuries were “life-threatening”.
She said the other prisoner injured in the attack, who was in a stable condition, appeared to be going to Mokbel’s aid in the footage.
“A majority of them [prisoners] will remain in lockdown today whilst we continue the investigation to support Victoria Police to do so,” she said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the Government was prepared to make any necessary changes to prison security.
“It doesn’t matter what we might feel about that particular person, we want our prisons to operate properly and that means they need to be safe for everybody involved, and that includes staff,” Mr Andrews said.
Newspaper story ‘possibly’ inflamed tensions
Barwon Prison houses the state’s most dangerous offenders, and was where gangland killer Carl Williams was bashed to death with part of an exercise bike in 2010.
On Sunday, the Sunday Herald Sun reported that Mokbel had emerged as a “powerful enforcer” in the prison, and had disrupted an extortion racket being run by Pacific Islander inmates.
Dr Cassar said the two men seen attacking Mokbel on the CCTV footage were of “Pacific Islander background” and that it could be a “coincidence” Mokbel was attacked a day after the story appeared.
“There are some similarities between the two incidents … it may not be a coincidence [but] at this stage it’s too early to make a comment on that,” she said.
Herald Sun crime writer Andrew Rule said the attack, which happened the day after the story was published, could be linked to the article.
“Possibly it just inflamed the underlying tensions which are always present in a prison, particularly in a high security prison,” he said.
“People with the perception of money [inside jail] can buy influence, and protection, to a large extent.
“It’s yet to be seen but there’s a fair chance that the younger man who was injured … was probably some sort of prison bodyguard. Somebody of Mokbel’s standing would have bodyguards and friends he kept on side with the promise of money.”
Aerial vision from the prison showed Mokbel, bare-chested and wearing shorts, being stretchered away from the scene of the attack.
He was conscious when the air ambulance landed at hospital and could be seen shaking the hand of a paramedic as he was wheeled inside.
Mokbel ‘confident’ he’d get out of jail
Mokbel, sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2012, was the mastermind behind an elaborate drug syndicate known as The Company.
He was arrested in Greece in June 2007, 15 months after fleeing Melbourne while on bail during a trial on cocaine importation charges.
Mokbel was recently in the headlines after it was revealed that his barrister, known as Informer 3838 or Lawyer X, was acting as a paid informant and was passing information to Victoria Police about her clients.
Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, has written to 20 criminals — including Mokbel, whose convictions may have been affected by Victoria Police’s use of the barrister as an informant.
Dr Cassar said Mokbel was “very confident he would get out of jail” and she suspected that would probably be very irritating to other prisoners.
The Victorian Government has called a royal commission into Victoria Police’s management of informants.
Mokbel fled in 2006 while on trial for drug trafficking, and hid in Bonnie Doon in northern Victoria before being driven to Western Australia, where he set sail on a yacht, hidden in a secret compartment with its own toilet.
The yacht sailed across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal and on to Greece.
Even while in hiding in Greece, Mokbel continued to run his drug syndicate, organising the trafficking of $4 million worth of speed.
Despite being disguised in a wig, he was arrested by Greek police in a cafe in a seaside suburb of Athens in June 2007.
Topics: crime, law-crime-and-justice, prisons-and-punishment, lara-3212, vic, melbourne-3000
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