Some of WA’s most notorious prisoners enjoyed a late-night soccer party after winning special permission to watch the recent UEFA Champions League final.
The application was made by Wooroloo prison inmate and one-time State commander of the Comanchero bikie gang, Steve “Shorty” Milenkovski.
Six gathered in a common area at 2.30am on May 29 to watch Real Madrid beat Liverpool prisoners in a blockbuster match played in Paris.
Prison bosses advised the lucky inmates the day before the end. Guards at the minimum-security facility were ordered to get the men back in their units by 5.30am in time for the morning muster but were told they could stay out later if there was a play-off.
The order stipulated that no other prisoners were allowed to watch the game. It is understood some prison staff were uncomfortable with the extraordinary event because they believed it breached COVID protocols — something the Department of Justice denied.
The soccer crew featured a who’s who of organized crime.
Robert Zanon is six years into a 14-year sentence for supplying 8.75kg of meth. Zanon was a courier in a syndicate headed by drug dealer to the stars and one-time mate of Ben Cousins, Marc Quaid.
Seated near Zanon in an area known as the 4C dayroom was Alessio Paloucci, who was busted with a kilogram of MDMA.
Also watching the game was Rebels bikie nominee Luke Edward Noormets, who abducted and beat a man before dousing him in petrol, setting him on fire and finally water-boarding him at a house in Ashfield in 2017.
Omar Hussein is in jail after attempting to smuggle 9.5 million cigarettes into WA with the help of his brother Khaled.
Milenkovski is serving 17 years for managing a sophisticated drug-running operation that attempted to bring $3.8 million worth of meth to Perth.
It would be easy for one particular gang to tell the others that they run the place when they have an invite-only party to watch the football.
Prisoners identified as J. Gonzales and K. Law also attended.
“These prisoners were in a separate unit, night staff were advised of the approval, the prisoners did not leave the unit and there were no recorded incidents,” a department spokesperson said.
“There were no additional security concerns identified and there was no disruption to the operations or daily routine of the prison.
“Prisoners who have achieved minimum security rating are considered low risk, generally require a less restrictive routine and are encouraged to participate in meaningful activities, rehabilitation opportunities and assisted with their re-integration into the community.
The WA Prison Officers’ Union said the soccer night sent the wrong message.
“WAPOU has concerns about the double standards being displayed here,” union secretary Andy Smith said.
“If our members don’t follow policy they are investigated by the Professional Standards Department or the Corruption and Crime Commission and are sacked.
“Yet managers are able to make decisions outside of policy whenever they please. A decision like this creates a number of issues for our members. The biggest of these issues is the inconsistency of the treatment of prisoners.
“This gives other prisoners the impression that the prison is actually run by criminal elements in the prison rather than the prison management.
“It would be easy for one particular gang to tell the others that they run the place when they have an invite-only party to watch the football. Especially when this happens when all the others are required to stay in their cells.
“If anything had happened then there wasn’t enough staff to do anything about it.”
Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston said that regardless of their crimes, the prisoners mentioned had been assessed as being no security risk and were being prepared for life outside jail.
“They will be able to watch sport at two in the morning when they are at home,” he said.
“We have to get people ready to go back out into the community. I rely on staff at the prison to make these judgments.”