In the Media

Abu Hamza's daughter-in-law caught smuggling SIM card into prison beneath burkha

PUBLISHED May 23, 2012

When Chaymae Smak visited her father-in-law at Belmarsh Prison in December 2010, she had the SIM card stashed in the coin pocket of her jeans beneath her flowing robes where security guards discovered it, London's Appeal Court heard.

She had previously visited her hook-handed father-in-law behind bars, said Mr Justice Openshaw, and was "well aware" that SIM cards were banned in prison.

Smak, 28, of Gap Road, Wandsworth, was jailed for 12 months at Blackfriars Crown Court on May 4 after she was convicted of conveying a prohibited article into prison.

She appealed her sentence in the Appeal Court today - where the facts of her case emerged for the first time - claiming she should be released for the sake of her 10-month old son, with whom she was pregnant at the time of the prison visit.

The SIM card was destined for Abu Hamza, said Mr Justice Openshaw, who was held as a high risk "Category A" inmate following his conviction for inciting murder and pending extradition on terror charges to the United States.

Smak at first claimed she had put the SIM card in her pocket several days earlier and "forgotten about it", said the judge, who added: "The jury clearly didn't accept that claim".

Mr Justice Openshaw, sitting with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and Mr Justice Irwin, said Smak, a single mother, had given birth to a baby boy in July last year, and that the boy's grandmother is now struggling to raise him.

But, although the courts had to consider the "impact of custody on the child", a deterrent sentence was justified, ruled the judge.

Smak's lawyers claimed too much account was taken of the fact that the SIM card was destined for Abu Hamza.

But Mr Justice Openshaw held: "It seems highly relevant to the seriousness of the offence that the prisoner she was visiting was Abu Hamza, who was detained as a Category A prisoner following his conviction for inciting murder".

He added: "The particular danger of conveying a telephone SIM card to someone such as Abu Hamza is immediately obvious.

"He could use it to convey messages of support to his followers outside, or use it to encourage or incite the commission of further offences.

"The risk that this may come to pass is a seriously aggravating factor in the commission of this particular offence."

The compassionate features of Smak's case had to be considered, he said, but needed to be weighed against the risk to prison security and the public.

And he told the court: "It seems quite likely to us that she might have appreciated that, if convicted, she would be able to plead her personal circumstances as the carer of her child as part of her mitigation".

It was clear that "alternative arrangements" had now been made for her child's care, the court heard, and Mr Justice Openshaw concluded: "We think 12 months fully reflected such mitigation as was offered".

Smak was in the dock of the court throughout the 30 minute hearing, clad in a robe and headscarf covering her face up to her eyes.