* With friends like these: Ol’Hawkeye jumps in the ring to bail out a Saudi “friend” who drugged and raped a young woman. Not to worry: the judge said “Â the assault was in the moderate range of the offence.”
EVEN a reference from the former prime minister Bob Hawke was not enough to stop a Saudi businessman from being jailed for almost six years for drink spiking and indecent assault.
Safwat Abdel-Hady, 48, will be behind bars until 2014 for administering a stupefying drug to a Melbourne couple he met in the now-closed Barons nightclub in Kings Cross in November 2006. He was also convicted of indecently assaulting the woman, in her 30s, at his luxurious Mosman apartment.
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Judge Michael King told Parramatta District Court yesterday he had received Mr Hawke’s letter of support for Abdel-Hady, with whom he directed Australian Gulf Mineral Resources Corporation Pty Ltd.
Mr Hawke wrote that he had known the offender for four years and he had entertained Abdel-Hady at home. His behaviour towards women had been “respectful”, he said. Mr Hawke resigned his directorship on March 20, about a month after his friend was taken into custody.
Other references cited in court were from a migration consultant and a massage practitioner. But Judge King said he had difficulty with “any suggestion that there’s a good prospect of rehabilitation” because “the offender continues to deny the offence”.
The couple, whose names were suppressed, were spending the night with friends when they met Abdel-Hady at the late-night bar. He joined the group after the man, MD, had helped him with a smashed glass.
True to his reputation for generosity, Abdel-Hady bought three bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne. MD and his partner, AW, estimate they each consumed 15 to 18 drinks.
When Abdel-Hady invited them back to his apartment to watch the sunrise, they accepted. When he took a long time to mix their drinks, AW jokingly queried him on what sort of drink was being mixed. They all consumed cocaine.
He served them a cocktail that was strongly alcoholic in order to mask the bitter flavour of Stilnox, a prescription drug for insomnia. It was a night well documented by AW’s camera. Before she drank the drug, photos of the evening were sharp. After the sun rose they were out of focus.
About 10am AW awoke to find Abdel-Hady’s hand in her pants. MD was asleep in another room. When she woke him, they caught a cab to hospital. Judge King found the assault to be in the moderate range of the offence.