Disgraced former NSW minister Eddie Obeid has walked from prison and into the arms of family three years after he was jailed for misconduct in public office.
The 76-year-old former ALP powerbroker began life on parole on Saturday, walking from Sydney’s Silverwater jail with a tote bag and box of belongings.
He embraced his lawyer and a family member before getting into a car and saying nothing to media outside the gates of the correctional complex.
Obeid was jailed for five years in December 2016 after being found guilty of lobbying a public servant to secure lease renewals for two lucrative Circular Quay businesses in 2008 without revealing his family’s financial interests in the outlets.
While on parole, Obeid will be subject to 11 standard conditions including that he can’t be in control of money or assets of other people or organisations.
The Lebanon-born former upper house MP held the fisheries and mineral resources portfolios during his 20-year career, which ended in 2011.
Much of his first year on parole is set to be spent in the NSW Supreme Court during a five-month trial on a separate corruption allegation.
Obeid, his son Moses and former mining minister Ian Macdonald are due to face a judge-alone trial over an alleged conspiracy to grant a mining licence on Obeid family land.
The coal mining exploration licence was granted for Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee, while Obeid Sr and Macdonald were in government.
Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Fullerton on Friday said the decision to avoid a trial by jury was in the interests of justice, noting “highly prejudicial” descriptions of Obeid in recent media reporting.
Those descriptions either directly or indirectly aligned him with institutional corruption, she said.
Justice Fullerton acknowledged the trial’s length and complexity and an upcoming review into NSW Labor as supporting reasons.