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What jail is like for bikie kingpin

Former Comanchero bikie boss Tarek Zahed (centre) is awaiting sentencing in the NSW Supreme Court . Picture: Supplied.
Former Comanchero bikie boss Tarek Zahed (centre) is awaiting sentencing in the NSW Supreme Court . Picture: Supplied.

Stuck in solitary confinement for the past 18 months, with only a discman to occupy his time, former bikie kingpin Tarek Zahed has reassessed his life, his lawyer has told a court.

Almost 18 months on from his dramatic arrest in Sydney’s eastern suburbs the 43-year-old is waiting to learn his sentence after pleading guilty over his role in the killing of Youssef Assoum.

The former Comanchero national sergeant-at-arms was arrested at gunpoint by specialist police who shot out the windows of his car with bean bag rounds in Edgecliff, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, in August 2022.

Zahed, who was once dubbed the “Balenciaga bikie”, was charged with murder and kidnapping, with police at the time alleging he was responsible for the 2014 gangland murder of Assoum.

Assoum, 29, was discovered by an off-duty doctor outside Liverpool Hospital suffering stab wounds to his head and a gunshot wound to his thigh. He later died in hospital.

But on the eve of Zahed’s trial last month, the murder charges were dropped as he and his brother Abdul struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Last month, Tarek pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of hindering the discovery of evidence relating to the cleaning and ordering the destruction of a vehicle.

Abdul Zahed pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder.

Forme Comanchero boss Tarek Zahed was once known as the “Balenciaga bikie”. Picture: Supplied
Forme Comanchero boss Tarek Zahed was once known as the “Balenciaga bikie”. Picture: Supplied
Youssef Assoum
Youssef Assoum died in the attack in December, 2014. Picture: Facebook

During a sentence hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday afternoon, Zahed’s barrister Ian Hill KC told the court his client had admitted cleaning the Volkswagen Touareg in which Assoum was killed and directing it to be destroyed at a wrecking yard.

Mr Hill told the court Zahed was at the time acting out of loyalty to his brother.

“Our client clearly suspected the involvement of his brother Abdul in the deceased’s death,” Mr Hill said.

“And it is submitted that he acted out of a misguided sense of loyalty to his brother. Whilst accepting that cannot be a factor in mitigation.”

Zahed watched proceedings via videolink from Goulburn prison, where he is being held.

His arrest came only months after he sensationally survived an assassination attempt that killed his other brother Omar.

In May 2022, Zahed was shot 10 times outside an Auburn gym in western Sydney.

Omar, 39, died after he was shot several times in the arms, stomach and legs, while Zahed was taken to Westmead Hospital in a critical condition.

He survived the attack but suffered significant injuries including losing an eye.

Tarek Zahed (with sunglasses) is awaiting sentencing in the NSW Supreme Court. Picture: Supplied
Tarek Zahed (with sunglasses) is awaiting sentencing in the NSW Supreme Court. Picture: Supplied
Zahed was arrested in dramatic circumstances in August 2022. Picture: NSW Police
Zahed was arrested in dramatic circumstances in August 2022. Picture: NSW Police

The court heard Zahed had only had limited vision in his remaining eye due to cataracts, and could not read or watch television.

Mr Hill said Zahed had been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest and the only thing he had to occupy his time was a CD player.

“He’s had limited intellectual stimulation in the last 18 months, other than the prison authorities provided him with a compact disc player on which he could play music,” Mr Hill said.

“But he’s had much time to reassess his life and his life’s values, particularly in solitary confinement suffering from the injuries that he has.”

Mr Hill said Zahed, upon his release, wanted to move back to Victoria, where he had been living.

Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC told the court Zahed was not entitled to leniency due to his lengthy criminal history and pointed out he was on parole at the time he committed the offences.

Zahed will return to court next week for sentencing.