Some of WA’s most notorious prisoners enjoyed a late night game of football after being granted special permission to watch the recent UEFA Champions League final.
The request was made by Steve “Shorty” Milenkovski, an inmate at Wooroloo prison and former state commander of the Comanchero motorcycle gang.
Six prisoners gathered in a communal area at 2.30am on May 29 to watch Real Madrid beat Liverpool in a hard-fought game in Paris.
Prison bosses advised lucky inmates the day before the final. Guards at the minimum-security facility were ordered to get the men back to their units by 5:30 a.m. in time for the morning muster, but were told they could stay out later if there is had a play-off.
The order stated that no other prisoners were allowed to watch the game. It is understood that some prison staff were uncomfortable with the extraordinary event because they believed it breached COVID protocols – which the Justice Department has denied.
The football team featured a who’s who of organized crime.
Robert Zanon gets six years of a 14-year sentence for supplying 8.75 kg of methamphetamine. Zanon was a courier in a syndicate run by drug dealer for the stars and former companion of Ben Cousins, Marc Quaid.
Alessio Paloucci was sitting near Zanon in an area known as common room 4C, who was arrested with one kilogram of MDMA.
Rebels bike nominee Luke Edward Noormets also watched the game, which abducted and beat a man before dozing him in gasoline, setting him on fire and ultimately boarding him in a house in Ashfield in 2017 .
Omar Hussein is in jail after trying to smuggle 9.5 million cigarettes into WA with the help of his brother Khaled.
Milenkovski is serving a 17-year sentence for running a sophisticated drug smuggling operation that attempted to bring $3.8 million worth of methamphetamine to Perth.
It would be easy for one gang in particular to tell others that they run the place when they throw an invite-only party to watch football.
Prisoners identified as J. Gonzales and K. Law were also present.
“These prisoners were in a separate unit, night staff were notified of the approval, the prisoners did not leave the unit, and no incidents were recorded,” a department spokesperson said.
“No additional security concerns have been identified and there have been no disruptions to operations or the daily routine of the prison.
“Inmates who have been granted a minimum security clearance are considered low risk, generally require a less restrictive routine and are encouraged to participate in meaningful activities, opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
The WA Prison Officers’ Union said football night sent the wrong message.
“WAPOU is concerned about the double standards displayed here,” union secretary Andy Smith said.
“If our members do not follow the policy, they are investigated by the Professional Standards Department or the Corruption and Crime Commission and terminated.
“Yet managers are able to make decisions outside of politics whenever they see fit. Such a decision creates a number of problems for our members. The biggest of these problems is the inconsistent treatment of prisoners.
“It gives other inmates the impression that the prison is actually run by criminal elements of the prison rather than the prison management.
“It would be easy for one gang in particular to tell others they run the place when they are having an invite-only party to watch football. Especially when it happens when everyone else is required to stay in their cells.
“If something had happened, there weren’t enough staff to do anything about it.”
Corrections Minister Bill Johnston said that whatever their crimes, the prisoners mentioned had been assessed as not posing a security risk and were prepared for life outside prison.
“They will be able to watch sports at two in the morning when they are at home,” he said.
“We have to prepare people to return to the community. I count on the prison staff to make these judgments.