Salim Mehajer’s tortured prison life
Salim Mehajer's life in prison, where he will spend the entire coming festive season, is a textbook case of a man doing time in the harshest manner possible.
The disgraced former deputy mayor and property developer is not the first rich businessman to fall off his gilded perch and end up in a squalid jail cell.
But through his own bad behaviour, and at the behest of the man who rules his life - the prison governor - Mehajer's world behind bars would seem twice as long.
Until recently, Mehajer spent his free time playing real estate wheeler dealer, wearing smart suits and jewellery, driving flashy cars and living in a luxury beachside apartment with a marble bathroom.
He could indulge his passion for facial grooming, hang out with his latest Instagram beauty and constantly amuse himself with social media on more than one mobile phone.
Now Salim is confined to a prison green tracksuit, a three by four metre cell with a stainless steel toilet and no physical contact with friends or family.
He has no access to mobile phones or the internet and, as he discovered, if he disobeys prison rules, access to a landline telephone is removed.
He eats Rice Bubbles or white bread for breakfast and his nights comprise of no TV, and no distractions, bar dinner served at 3pm in an aluminium foil tray.
Unlike many other corporate high flyers imprisoned for their crimes, Mehajer appears to be coping very badly.
Imprisoned in June for a minimum 11 months for electoral fraud Mehajer has spent most of his sentence in Cooma Correctional Centre.
The sandstone 19th century mental asylum repurposed as a prison typically houses crooked police, paedophile priests and high-profile inmates who require protection from other inmates.
Roxy Jacenko's insider trading husband Oliver Curtis spent a year there, behaving well according to NSW Corrective Services.
Curtis appeared to make friends, adjust to jail procedure and get fit lifting weights.
At his failed attempt early this month to be freed on bail for Christmas, Mehajer looked as if he had also bulked up with time in the prison gym.
But he has further isolated himself from the rest of the prison population by disobeying rules and being sent to his cell.
He has flouted prison rules on eight occasions since late August.
Mehajer has refused or failed a drug sample, unlawfully used a phone or fax, twice unlawfully delivered or received an article, twice disobeyed a direction, failed to comply with routine, avoided a routine and assaulted a prison officer.
Punished with a confinement to cells, he has also twice had his basic privileges withdrawn for more than a month.
That includes deprivation of his right to a TV, or to make or receive phone calls.
He has also had access to money of around $60 weekly to purchase "buy-ups", which include chocolate, foodstuffs such as vegetarian or halal items, and toiletries.
The jail governor also withdrew contact visits, which means Mehajer can only see visitors through a toughened perspex screen.
The litany of misbehaviour on Mehajer's prison papers did not amuse NSW Supreme Court judge David Davies when he heard the 32-year-old's latest desperate plea to get out of jail.
Refusing what was Mehajer's bail application, Justice Davies rejected Michael Finnane, QC's proposition that Mehajer merely had first time inmate custody adjustment problems.
"His custodial record is considerably worse than most custodial records that I have seen in the bail lists, even for persons having unresolved drug addiction problems," Justice Davies said.
"The offences entirely bear out … that the applicant has an arrogant disregard for the law.
"In my opinion, his behaviour in custody resulting in the custodial offences mentioned is a clear indication that the applicant is not prepared to abide by the law or by rules or regulations."
Mehajer has not been charged by police with assaulting a prison officer, just received the Cooma governor's stiffest available penalty, 56 days off privileges.
By his own hand, Mehajer has created a lonely sentence with little to distract him for the next 200 nights in his cell.
Historically in NSW prisons, so-called white collar criminals like Mehajer have coped with the fall from grace and adjusted to prison regulations, or learned to quickly.
Rodney Adler, jailed in 2005 for his role in the collapse of insurance giant HIH, was initially sent to Kirkconnell minimum-security prison.
He was serving relatively easy time when he was accused of secretly sending business letters to associates outside prison while pretending to help his visiting children with homework.
Charged with breaching prison rules, Adler was shanghaied off to the higher security Bathurst jail.
Like Mehajer, he was confined to boxed visits, behind the perspex, for six weeks, and deprived of privileges.
Adler later described prison as "degrading, horrible, at times barbaric, mid-numbingly boring and a waste of time".
But he served the rest of his time quietly and "witnessed moments of generosity, friendship … and came to appreciate the purity of the code of prison life".
Convicted of filing false financial statements also in 2005, former HIH CEO Ray Williams was sent to Cessnock prison for his two years and nine month sentence.
Locked up as "the most hated man in Australia" after HIH's $5 billion collapse, Williams spent his time scrubbing the Cessnock toilets.
He earned $40 a week cleaning floors, dusting and working as a storeman, gaining the respect of prison officers by staying quiet and well-behaved.
Former playboy and Ferrari Spyder driving conman of the HIH era, Brad Cooper went behind bars as a cocaine and prescription drug addict.
But at Kirkconnell in the mountains west of Lithgow, Cooper knuckled down with the boys in green and scrubbed the corridors and learnt woodwork in the furniture shop
Mehajer's barrister Michael Finnane told the Supreme Court bail hearing that his client suffered from a bipolar condition and needed treatment on the outside.
The court heard that Mehajer had staged his extravagant wedding - which featured four helicopters, 30 super cars, 50 motorbikes, a jet flyover and 100m of red carpet - during a "hypermanic phase of the disorder".
Judge Davies concurred with psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielsson's assessment of Mehajer's state of mind for the 2015 nuptials, which first thrust Mehajer into the public spotlight.
Sadly, Mehajer is in plentiful company: last year the NSW Mental Health Commission reported half of all adult inmates have been diagnosed or treated for a mental health problem.
In an earlier hearing this year, in August, Mehajer told a judge he would be unavailable for a court appearance in January next year because he would be "on vacation".
He then told the astonished judge that he would soon be moving closer back into town, from Cooma to the Silverwater Correctional Centre in western Sydney.
This may have been a result of Mehajer's hypermania, or wishful thinking that, unlike everyone else entering jail, he hadn't lost charge over his day-to-day life.
Until his earliest release date, next May, Mehajer may keep on learning the hard way that he is now a slave to prison routine and prison rules.
Prison officers are required to report any infringements of that routine or the rules to managers who must deal with the matter within 28 days.
Last December, Mehajer revealed plans that, despite his bankruptcy, he would light up his $3 million Lidcombe mansion for a "Christmas extravaganza".
In May this year, Mehajer and his then girlfriend, bikini model Melissa Tysoe, conducted an "interview" together on a bed in which he stated that "heartbreak" was worse than jail.
This December 25, as he faces Christmas dinner in his cell of turkey, vegetables and cranberry sauce in a foil tray, Mehajer will have plenty of time to review that statement.
Even if he behaves himself, he won't be getting any visitors, behind a perspex screen or not.
Visits are banned every Christmas Day in NSW jails to allow more prison officers to be with their families.