Nude model says female killers were 'nicest women'
WARNING: Disturbing content
FORMER Penthouse Pet Victoria Schembri has revealed what life was like making prison friendships with two of Australia's worst female murderers, both of whom decapitated and dismembered their boyfriends.
Schembri caused a sensation when she was stripsearched and handed a set of prison greens after being sentenced to a maximum seven-year sentence for tax fraud.
A former stripper and ex-wife of a Rebel bikie gang member, Schembri became Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre's most glamorous inmate.
But among drug takers covered in sores, and baby killers and murderers, she found herself the target of invitations for sex in exchange for drugs. The details have been revealed in James Phelps' latest prison book Green Is The New Black, which looks at life inside the country's most notorious female correctional centres.
Silverwater, also known as Mulawa, houses maximum security women inmates including violent prisoners held in special units.
At Mulawa, Schembri was confronted by a middle-aged inmate she did not recognise, let alone suspect the grey-haired bespectacled woman was the country's most notorious female killer.
The woman approached Schembri and introduced herself by name.
When Schembri didn't react, Katherine Knight said: 'Seriously, you've never heard of me?"
Standing before Schembri was the first woman in Australian history to be sentenced to life in prison without any hope of release.
In early 2000 Knight, then an abattoir worker, stabbed her partner John Price 37 times, deeply piercing his vital organs.
Knight then decapitated Price and flayed his body, making a skin "suit" which she hung from a meat hook in the lounge room.
She then infamously boiled up his head and other body parts in a pot with vegetables, made gravy and set the table with place names for Price's children.
Knight told Schembri she liked her and believed they would be friends.
Schembri told James Phelps she became "very close" to Knight.
"We had an extremely special relationship, one of the closest I've had in my life.
"According to the papers, I'm the worst woman to have walked the Earth. I'm a monster."
Schembri spent much of the four years she served in the same wing as Knight.
Knight did not remember the actual murder but was "remorseful" and Schmebri had seen her cry.
"She didn't remember killing him, but wishes she hadn't done it. She has ruined her life," Schembri said.
Transferred to Dillwynia women's prison in western Sydney after three months at Silverwater, Schembri encountered another female inmate who was familiar.
"She knew that I was a Penthouse Pet ... she was a lady with a very big mouth," Schembri said.
"Next thing, everyone knew ... I used to be a cover girl and a centrefold."
She was targeted for sex, wolf whistled at and touched up in the yard.
Two of her rooming mates in a four person cell in Dillwynia were killers.
Kathy Yeo had cut off her boyfriend's head and dismembered his body, but had never revealed where she buried most of it.
Yeo, a former psychiatric nurse, was serving 24 years for killing lover Christopher Dorrian, a patient who she had sex with in the hospital storeroom.
Mr Dorrian's head had washed up in a sports bag in the Cooks River in 1997 with three bullets inside his skull.
Yeo was having a lesbian affair in prison with a former female officer who had been sacked when the relationship was revealed.
Victoria Schembri found Yeo intelligent and encouraging.
"(She was) one of my best friends," Schembri said. "She was so lovely and taught me a lot."
Another of Schembri's room mates at Dillwynia was Danielle Stewart, who was jailed for killing her husband with an antique knife while she was in a drunken rage.
Stewart had a history of being sexually abused, anorexia, and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as a borderline personality disorder.
She was more than four times over the limit when she stabbed Chaim Kimel, 55, who was also her partner in their catering business.
He died on the operating table at St Vincents. Stewart was sentenced to four years for manslaughter, and has since been released.
Another woman Phelps writes about in Green Is The New Black is Tracey-Lee Brannigan, the tragic drug addict who died in Dillwynia prison in 2013 from a heroin overdose.
Brannigan, 41, and her cellmate Lauren Ironside had been celebrating the latter's imminent release on parole.
An inquest later heard that Brannigan had a "drug party" and was found the next morning by Ironside, with whom she had formed a lesbian relationship, slumped over on the floor "stiff and cold".
Brannigan had formed a lesbian relationship with several female inmates, in return for drugs, the 2014 inquest heard.
Her heartbroken mother, Sandra Kelly, slammed a prison system that allowed drugs to be bartered in prison, particularly in women's facilities.
"The detective said it could be thrown over the fence, brought in by others. Well, I will say they are not checking them enough, they need better equipment," she said.
Green Is The New Black by James Phelps, Penguin, $34.99, is available for all good book shops and online.