One of the notorious Skaf-gang rapists is set to be granted parole early next year after the State Parole Authority indicated its intention to release him.
Mohamed Sanoussi, 28, was initially sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison for his role in a series of sexual assaults on young women by the gang in the lead-up to the 2000 Olympics.
Sanoussi was one of 14 men, including gang leader Bilal Skaf, who raped a young woman multiple times at isolated locations across western Sydney in August, and two other women in a park in Greenacre.
Sanoussi, who was 16 at the time of the attacks, had his sentence reduced on appeal to a minimum of 10 years and became eligible for parole two years ago.
On October 4, after multiple applications for release, the Parole Authority indicated its intention to grant parole.
Meeting again this morning, the authority declined to formally grant parole so that the 28-year-old could undertake a weekend leave for a number of months.
The head of the parole panel, Judge Terry Christie, said that if this leave, which will begin next Saturday, was completed without incident, the authority would order his release in January or February next year.
"We have been persuaded [by the Corrective Services Commissioner] that the prisoner do weekend leave," Judge Christie said.
"If that is undertaken, we would propose releasing him for parole on the second Friday of the new year."
Sanoussi, appearing via audio visual link from prison, hung his head and cried as the judge made the order.
The hearing heard that Sanoussi has been suffering from mental health issues for which he is taking medication, and has an intellectual impairment.
"Every time my client comes before the authority the benchmark [for release]
gets moved," Sanoussi's legal aid solicitor, Ruth Layton, told the hearing.
"It's a horrible crime, but he's recognised that."
Mohamed Sanoussi would be the third member of the Skaf gang to be released.
His brother Mahmoud Sanoussi was released earlier this year, and another member of the gang, who cannot be named, was released some years ago.
In 2002, District Court Judge Michael Finnane ordered that the suppression on the names of the Sanoussi brothers, Skaf and one other be lifted.