Blowing bubble gum at the camera, former bikie boss Mick Hawi arrives at court to face a revised charge of manslaughter over the Sydney Airport brawl in 2009. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Mahmoud "Mick" Hawi arrived at the NSW Supreme Court on Friday afternoon in what appeared to be a buoyant mood.
As he approached, the former Comanchero bikie boss blew a large pink bubble in the direction of the media who had gathered to learn his fate.
But an hour later the 34-year-old cut a more deflated figure as he was escorted from the court to the cells below.
Victim: Anthony Zervas. Photo: Supplied
The former bikie was taken into custody after being sentenced for a second time over the infamous 2009 Sydney Airport brawl in which his gang stabbed and bludgeoned a rival bikie to death.
In November 2011, Hawi was found guilty of murdering bitter rival Anthony Zervas, 29, who was bludgeoned with a bollard and stabbed in the chest and abdomen in the domestic departure hall on March 22, 2009.
Hawi, the then national president of the Comanchero motorcycle gang, was sentenced to a maximum of 28 years in prison with a non-parole period of 21 years.
But last year the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal set aside the conviction and Hawi was subsequently allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
He was subsequently granted bail in June last year.
Hawi had already served five years and 40 days in maximum security over the crime, and his legal team had asked the sentencing judge, Justice Clifton Hoeben, to depart from the usual process of requiring an offender to be in custody until formally released by the NSW parole board.
They argued that to force Hawi back into jail would be unfair.
But Justice Hoeben rejected this argument, finding that while Hawi's situation was "unfortunate" there was a need for "deterrence and denunciation" and no exception would be made to the normal process.
He sentenced Hawi to a maximum of six years and two months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years six months – an order that meant Hawi was forced to return to jail until the over-burdened NSW Parole Authority deals with his application.
"Except in the case of sentences of three years or less, a non-parole period is not a maximum period of full-time imprisonment with an automatic right to release to parole," Justice Hoeben said.
"An appropriate sentence in this case, taking into account principles of punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation is a sentence of substantially more than three years."
Hawi hung his head as Justice Hoeben handed down his decision, but gave a wry smile to his lawyers and waved to his wife and extended family before being taken down to the cells.
"It's just a matter for formalities - once the parole board sets a date we should be right," Hawi's solicitor Ali Abbas said outside court.
"It was something that we talked about …we just have to take each day as it comes and get the earliest possible [parole hearing] date."
In his remarks on sentence Justice Hoeben said that the violent, 36-second brawl had begun when Mr Zervas, fuelled by potentially fatal doses of cocaine and methadone, had attempted to stab Hawi with a pair of scissors.
Passengers watched on in horror as 12 members of the Comanchero and five Hells Angels, including Mr Zervas, engaged in an "explosion of fighting" that was "chaotic…wild and uncontrolled".
Justice Hoeben found that while Hawi had not inflicted the fatal blows on Mr Zervas, he bore greater responsibility for the brawl because he knew that, as club president, his involvement would incite and encourage others to act violently.
Nonetheless he found that Hawi had subsequently shown some remorse for what happened.
Noting that Hawi had been volunteering with an Aboriginal employment agency and a south-west Sydney funeral service while on bail, Justice Hoeben found that the 34-year-old had "good prospects of rehabilitation".
He acknowledged that Hawi had been visited by members of the Comanchero while in jail, but said there was no evidence of criminal behaviour and that Hawi had reportedly told his wife he "wants nothing more to do with the club".