News State Victoria News Fears for safety of two Barwon prison inmates accused of Mokbel jail attack

Fears for safety of two Barwon prison inmates accused of Mokbel jail attack

Tony Mokbel remains in a serious condition in a Melbourne hospital. Photo: Getty
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Lawyers have concerns for the safety of two young prison inmates accused of the jail yard stabbing of convicted drug lord Tony Mokbel, a Victorian court has been told.

Teira Bennett and Eldea Teuira, both 21, faced Geelong Magistrates Court by video link on Friday charged with Mokbel’s alleged attempted murder.

Mokbel, 53, remains in a serious condition in Royal Melbourne Hospital after being stabbed at Barwon prison on Monday in an attack that allegedly involved the use of makeshift knives.

During the brief court hearing, defence lawyers raised issues about the safety of the accused men while they are in custody.

“We submit that due to the high-profile nature of the case that corrections take steps to ensure Mr Teuira’s safety,” lawyer Sophie Stafford said.

Bennett’s lawyer Stephanie Joosten tried to have her client’s name and image suppressed from publication, primarily out of concern for his safety.

“There is high tension in the prison system, particularly at Barwon,” she said.

“There is a risk to safety.”

But magistrate Peter Mellas dismissed the suppression order application, saying Bennett’s identity was already known.

“The name is out there,” he said. “The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak.”

The accused pair both appeared on the video link wearing silver handcuffs and white t-shirts, with Teuira sporting thin ponytails dangling from his otherwise shaved black hair.

They are also charged with intentionally causing serious injury to Mokbel in circumstances of gross violence.

Bennett and Teuira were remanded in custody and their matters will be mentioned in court again on May 10.

CCTV cameras captured the incident at the maximum-security prison, the court was told.

It took place a day after the release of a newspaper report that said Mokbel had allegedly intervened in a standover racket run by Pacific Islander inmates.