Friday, 20 June 2008

Skaf: 'brand' for gang rapist

Convicted gang rapist Bilal Skaf had such a notorious reputation as the leader of a gang of rapists that he did not receive a fair trial, his lawyer Andrew Haesler, SC, claimed in court today.

Skaf, and his brother Mohammed, are appealing their conviction for the rape of Ms D - one of four victims in three separate pack rapes of which they were accused.

But Mr Haesler said publicity about the spate of attacks in Sydney's west in August 2000 was so notorious that no juror could have put it out of their mind when they came to judge the pair in their April 2006 retrial for the offence against Ms D.

The name was "etched in the public imagination" because of extensive publicity, and his initial 55-year sentence for the first offence was so notorious, that his trial should have been stayed.

Going ahead with the trial in circumstances where Skaf could not have a fair trial amounted to a miscarriage of justice, Mr Haesler said.

"If an advertiser were trying to achieve a brand name for a gang rapist, Bilal Skaf has achieved this aim. The product for gang rapist in western Sydney is Bilal Skaf," Mr Haesler said.

The hearing before the Court of Criminal Appeal continues.

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