Bassam Hamzy

In 1999, aged 19, Hamzy shot dead a teenager on a Sydney nightclub strip and was jailed for 21 years for murder.  Hamzy started the Brothers 4  Life gang while in jail, after he converted to radical Islam.

When authorities discovered he had built himself a strong gang of converts, they moved Hamzy to Lithgow jail and into segregation.

It was there, in 2008, that the convicted killer gained notoriety when he was caught using a smuggled mobile phone to run a violent drug network from his prison cell, making up to 450 phone calls a day.  Hamzy used the phone to organise two kidnappings, torture, and a drive-by shooting.

Police said they began intercepting calls on the phone with the help of prison officers, and released a surveillance video of the mobile phone being passed between other inmates under Hamzy's cell door using dental floss.

Hamzy was sent back to Goulburn's Supermax prison, thrown into solitary confinement, and designated Australia's first and only extreme high-risk restricted inmate.

He was sentenced to a maximum 22 years, starting in December 2019, and will be eligible for parole in June 2035.

Very bright and very manipulative

In a 7.30 report last year, NSW Corrective Services Commissioner, Peter Severin, described Hamzy as being "very bright" and "very manipulative".

"[He is] somebody who obviously is determined to not only beat the system, but to continue committing a crime or having an influence outside the corrections system while he's serving a sentence," Mr Severin said.

In 2012, prison guards discovered Hamzy had once again obtained a mobile phone.

Fellow prisoners claimed Hamzy's associates got the phones into jail by standing over prison guards, threatening to harm their families, and paying them for their help.

Former NSW Police assistant commissioner, Clive Small, expressed his concern about Hamzy's reach.

"The violence will still be there. His gang is still there," Mr Small told 7.30 in July last year.

"They will be exercising violence whenever they need it to survive and whenever he tells them."