Prison guard model spared conviction for jail romance
A prison officer and former bikini model who had a romantic relationship with an inmate has had a conviction overturned on appeal.
Tara Brooks, 34, had pleaded guilty in April to one count of engaging in a relationship with drug dealer Hassan Zreika at Parklea Correctional Centre between December 2018 and February this year.
Brooks was given a two-year conditional release order, with the magistrate also recording a conviction.
Her legal team appealed against the severity of the sentence, arguing in Parramatta District Court that Brooks also suffered serious consequences because of media reports of her case.
Brooks, a former bikini model who featured in men's magazine Maxim, had admitted to pursuing a romantic relationship with Zreika and receiving calls from him when she knew it was illegal for an inmate to have a mobile phone but stressed it had never progressed to a physical relationship - a claim accepted by prosecutors.
Brooks' lawyers argued her offending was at the lower end of the scale, but acting Judge Norman Delaney on Wednesday said responsibility fell on those working in prisons to uphold the rules.
"That is the job they have been employed to do," he said.
But Judge Delaney accepted Brooks had undergone extra punishment because of media reporting, which he said was "quite appalling but not unusual", and amended her sentence to the same conditional release order but without a conviction.
She must not commit any offence and continue to see a psychologist as deemed necessary until the order ends in April 2021.