Mama Hooch sentencing: Drug rape survivor tells ‘vile’ Jaz brothers ’ This incident will not be who I am – you are not a part of who I am’

18 min read

Sentencing for the “predatory” brothers behind a long-running campaign of drink spiking and sexual assaults at Christchurch bar Mama Hooch has started – and eight women they drugged and violated are set to read impact statements live in court.

Danny Jaz, 40 and Roberto Jaz, 38, were convicted of 69 charges between them including rape, sexual violation, indecent assault, stupefying, disabling, making intimate recordings of women without their knowledge or consent and supplying illicit drugs.

The Australian-born brothers, described by Judge Paul Mabey KC as “arrogant” and “entitled” both face up to 20 years in prison for their litany of crimes.

Brothers Danny Jaz (left), and Roberto Jaz will today be sentenced on a raft of charges. Photo / George Heard
Brothers Danny Jaz (left), and Roberto Jaz will today be sentenced on a raft of charges. Photo / George Heard

Sentencing began in the Christchurch District Court just after 10.15am.


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The brothers were brought to the dock – Danny Jaz sporting a black eye.

The courtroom is packed with survivors and their supporters along with police who worked on the investigation into the brothers, dubbed Operation Sinatra.

A second courtroom has been allocated for further survivors and supporters with a live audio-visual link to the sentencing.

The sex-offending siblings’ brother Davide Jaz is present in court – the first time anyone has attended a hearing to support them.


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The Herald will have ongoing coverage of the proceedings throughout the day.

Rapist brothers Danny (centre) and Roberto (right) Jaz at the bar Mama Hooch where they drink spiked and sexually assaulted women. Photo / Facebook
Rapist brothers Danny (centre) and Roberto (right) Jaz at the bar Mama Hooch where they drink spiked and sexually assaulted women. Photo / Facebook

Among the women set to read their impact statements are the main victims – the former Mama Hooch staffer Roberto and Danny Jaz were convicted of raping and the two then-18-year-olds whose complaint to police sparked the chain of events that led to today’s sentencing.

Sophie Brown, who bravely waived her right to automatic and permanent name suppression to tell her story, will also read a statement in court.

Survivor one: drugged and indecently assaulted by Danny Jaz

The first woman to read her statement said she met Danny Jaz at Mama Hooch and felt he was someone she could trust.

“I was so confused how it went so wrong that night,” she said

“Emotionally this experience has completely rewired my brain… this is something I will carry for life.

“Mr Jaz stripped away the fun of a night out for me… the funloving girl has gone and will never return.”

She said she booked a “one-way ticket” and left Christchurch not long after the assault, her fear of seeing her attacker too much for her to bear.

The city she loved and felt at home in has forever been “tainted” she said.

“Danny, you have damaged me. My outlook on life is skewed because of what you thought you were entitled to – my body and my choices.


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Roberto Jaz, 38, (left) and Danny Jaz, 40, (right) were convicted of 69 charges. Photo / George Heard
Roberto Jaz, 38, (left) and Danny Jaz, 40, (right) were convicted of 69 charges. Photo / George Heard

She said the lengthy court process had been hard to navigate.

“It’s hard to find any positives in this situation,” she said.

“Other than the overwhelming feeling I have been immensely proud of myself and everyone stay strong throughout the last five years.

“We have waited so long to tell our story, have our validation and have our justice… Knowing that no other woman will ever be in danger of the Jaz brothers was my purpose.”

The woman told the court that her experience has made her rethink her career path.

She now wants to join the police.


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“I want to protect and support anyone who finds themselves in my position,” she said.

“It was never my fault I was targeted and preyed upon… It was out of my control…

There are monsters out there.

“I want to fight for women, fight for them to be believed, fight for them to be safe in our cities and towns.”

Survivor Two: stupefied and indecently assaulted by Danny Jaz

The second woman to read her statement has also left Christchurch as a result of the offending.

“When the offending happened, I remember feeling all sorts of emotions, feeling numb, shock was one shocked that I couldn’t believe what had just happened,” she said


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“To this day, I’m still struggling.”

She has suffered from depression and been on medication on and off since the attack.

“This process has been tough – mentally and physically draining… The process has caused a lot of anxiety and stress,” she said

“I’ve moved well away from Christchurch. I felt like I was suffocating at the thought of seeing you or an associate.

“The offending against me has changed me. I struggle with it. I’m fearful and vigilant.

“I feel utterly sad for you.”


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Sophie Brown in court. Photo / George Heard
Sophie Brown in court. Photo / George Heard

Survivor Three: Sophie Brown, stupefied and sexually violated by Danny Jaz

Brown told the court that her assault led to “some of the darkest days” of her life and for a long time she feared being alone.

“The times when I couldn’t deceive myself into believing nothing had happened, I was filled with sadness, shame, embarrassment, fear, emptiness.

“I searched for constant distraction, which has even sometimes meant self-sabotaging my life to live in chaos in order to avoid the silence,” she said.

“You stole my fierce independence from me. You stole my right to feel safe in my own mind from me. And you stole my right to autonomy over my own body away from me.”

Brown said Danny Jaz had destroyed how she saw herself in relationships with men.

“People will still describe me as a person who is confident, tenacious, and strong will but


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when it comes to romance… I become a timid pushover who fears that if I don’t please them, I’m not doing my job as a woman.

“I lack confidence, trust, and the safety of believing that I have control – there’s a few reasons that I’m exploring as to why this is, but your name is highlighted, underlined and in old on the top of this list.

“You’ve made it difficult for me to trust men, to form meaningful connections and enjoy the happiness I deserve of loving healthy relationships.”

Brown acknowledged Danny Jaz had a young daughter and turned to him to deliver powerful words.

“She’ll be 19 one day, and you’ve made sure that she continues to live in a world where women are exploited,” she said.

“She continues to live in a world full of men like you who believe women owe you the privilege of access to their own bodies, irrespective of whether she wants to or not.


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“She continues to live in a world where the chances of her encountering a man like you are one in four.”

Brown said felt bad that Danny Jaz would go to prison, but was “working on that”.

“One day I won’t feel bad,” she said.

“One day I won’t feel an ounce of shame or responsibility for what you did to me.

“You and only you decided that my body was yours for the taking. I’ll continuously work to shift the shading back onto you.”

While Brown still struggled with her attack, she refused to let Danny Jaz ruin her life.


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“Don’t assume you’re anything more than worthless,” she told him.

“I’m still a confident tenacious and strong woman who will continue to rise miles above you because I deserve a happy and meaningful life – the opposite of what you deserve.”

Survivor Four: stupefied by Danny Jaz

“This has made me feel so vulnerable,” she said

“I’ve often taken pride in the fact that I’ve never taken recreational drugs. That has always been my personal choice to never take them. I was so deeply disappointed this choice was taken without my permission.

“This has been very frightening for me. This has caused me a significant amount of stress by the loss of power over my body.

“The feeling of injustice, indescribable.”


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She recalled the night she was drugged and said she was still traumatised by it.

“I felt very confused and disorientated… It was incredibly frightening. I felt unsafe.

“I thought I was going to collapse.

She said she had “many flashbacks” and felt “so overwhelmed”.

“It has been extremely difficult for the past five years,” she said.

” And it’s taken a significant amount of courage to come forward.”


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Danny Jaz in the dock at sentencing. Photo / George Heard
Danny Jaz in the dock at sentencing. Photo / George Heard

Survivor Five: stupefied by the Jaz brothers

“I am sharing my Victim Impact Statement to shed light on the traumatic experience I endured and the profound impact it has had on my life which is difficult to put into words,” she said.

“In the aftermath of the events, I experienced immense mental disarray and emotional distress.

“At the time I was living alone and felt isolated and terrified, grappling with intrusive thoughts and panic attacks for a prolonged period. Eating and sleeping became challenging and my mental health deteriorated to the point where the police were called to my residence due to concerns of my well-being.

“When I finally confided in someone close to me about what had happened, they dismissed my experience and placed blame on me, intensifying my feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment.

“This narrative that it was my fault consumed me and hindered my ability to move forward to protect myself from the pain associated with the trauma.”

She did not realise the severity of what happened to her until she went to police three years later.


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“I began to fully comprehend… I allowed myself to acknowledge that I was groomed and drugged with intent,” she said.

“I realised that I was completely taken advantage of and that the blame does not belong with me.”

She said she suffered panic attacks that left her feeling “suffocated and unable to breathe”.

“The long-term impact on my mental health and well-being has been severe.

“I am sceptical and fearful of others frequently, hypervigilant about my surroundings and the people I encounter.

“I have a general lack of trust and often feel unsafe, which has had a long-term effect to my ability to grow and maintain relationships with others.”


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Survivor Six: stupefied by the Jaz brothers, indecently assaulted by Danny Jaz

“This experience has made me question everything that I thought I knew,” she said.

“I feel apprehensive and on edge. When there are males around me I am constantly checking to ensure no one is standing too close so that they could drive more drugs.

“I feel I’m hypervigilant now… this is not only extremely tiring but also has taken the joy and happiness I used to experience in socialising with my friends.

“I question every situation I’m in and try and ensure that I am never caught in this kind of situation.”

The woman told the court she had never taken drugs and was gutted that the choice had been taken from her by the Jaz brothers.

“What was done to me was not only a cowardly act, but it also took away my decision about what I want to do myself.


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“Danny, you made me feel violated… You made me feel uncomfortable around men I don’t know and I question every man.

“You made me feel stupid that I trusted you. I thought that you were a normal nice guy, but you took advantage of that.

“You made me feel scared to be a female with your intentions and actions.”

Roberto Jaz in court today. Photo / George Heard
Roberto Jaz in court today. Photo / George Heard

Survivor Seven: Katherine – drugged and indecently assaulted by Roberto Jaz

This survivor was one of the women who sparked the police investigation into the Jaz brothers.

The Herald has used the pseudonym Katherine for her during the court process.

She and Survivor Eight – named as Penny in previous Herald stories – were attacked at the same time and stood together to support each other as they read their statements.


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“It is extremely difficult for me to describe to you what I think and what I feel towards what you’ve done,” Katherine said.

She explained that she started working for the Jaz family at one of their hospitality venues when she was 15.

She trusted the Jaz brothers and said she felt “confident and comfortable” – moving into more hours of employment each week as she got older.

“I was supposed to be safe around you, but your intentions were distorted,” she said.

“I had no reason not to trust you. I did nothing wrong.”

She said the trauma of the night of the attack was only the beginning of her ordeal.


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She has had to relive the experience repeatedly during the police investigation and court process.

“Physically I suffered bruises, bite marks and pain. These were initial reminders of what you did,” she said.

“I was sick, confused and scared… The thought of no one believing me terrified me.”

Katherine said she blamed herself for what happened – and for what happened to her friend.

Roberto Jaz lured them to Venuti from Mama Hooch and offered the MDMA.

But the women believe it was a different and much stronger substance and it rendered them incapable of moving, talking and even seeing at points.


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While they were stupefied Roberto Jaz physically and sexually assaulted them.

They were 18 years old.

“What you did set an example, a twisted perception of what nightlife can be,” Katherine told her attacker.

“You implanted a fear in me… I lived in fear of seeing you… I went through a phase of paranoia.”

She said it was a relief that the Jaz brothers’ crimes were now public and their name suppression was no longer in place.

“I suffered intense feelings of not being understood,” she said.


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“I felt isolated, I secluded myself after what happened, I shut up from everything and everyone.

“Three months later, it had been made known to me that it wasn’t just Penny and I – you and your brother did this to dozens of other innocent women.

“I become distraught, angry, deranged…  I felt helpless… as more brave women came forward, which uncovered the horrific extent of you and your brother’s disturbing offending.

“You chose to harm hundreds of people who have been affected, not just one.

“What you did to me and to all the, all the other survivors will stay with me for life.”

Katherine said she had become more compassionate, patient and stronger as a result of her trauma.


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“My focus is not on you but me,” she said.

“I can never take back what you did and it is only fair for your sentence to reflect that and to hold you to account.”

Judge Paul Mabey KC will sentence the Jaz brothers later today. Photo / George Heard
Judge Paul Mabey KC will sentence the Jaz brothers later today. Photo / George Heard

Survivor Eight: drugged and indecently assaulted by Roberto Jaz

“The event was 2018, 3 days after my 18th birthday, I was targeted by a predator,” said Penny after her friend finished giving her statement.

“What this man did to me was violent.

“It’s a disgusting act performed on a young, helpless teenage girl who was unable to consent that night.

“He took my innocence when he decided to violate my innocent young body.”


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Penny said her trauma was intensified because she had to watch her friend get assaulted – powerless to stop what was happening.

“He knew that the drug would incapacitate us so he could do whatever he wanted to us – getting his twisted sexual pleasures and violent pleasures out of us,” she said.

“I still have some memory of the events – it’s affected me so greatly, it haunts me every day, but over the years, I’ve been learning how to cope.

“You left me feeling like a man will always hurt me. I always feel like I’m nothing – like that feeling I got when you left me laying on the floor or in the booth.”

She struggled with anxiety, depression, anger and alcohol issues since the attack.

“As a young adult, I should have been living my life with no stress or anxiety – certainly not going through this process.


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“You were still living your life for five years as I was trying to fight to bring justice.

“These were not my best years, but some of my worst. I did not deserve that.”

She turned to Roberto Jaz and directed a powerful message at him.

“Now you have no power over me,” she said.

“Who will you become now, apart from a serial sex offender with your name out there for the crimes that you have committed.

“Knowing that it is a liberating feeling for us, all that stand against you.”


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“I feel that even though this is the worst thing that has ever happened and I know it wasn’t in the plan for me to come that night – I am somewhat reassured that I did because that was your downfall.

“That was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made because you let me come down to the restaurant right? Because I was there for Katherine and she was there for me.

“We were each other’s strength.”

Survivor Nine: drugged, raped, assaulted and filmed by the Jaz brothers

I was 21 years old. I had just graduated… I was excited about the future,” she said.

She working at Mama Hooch and another bar to save as much money as she could for an overseas trip when she was raped.

“I was an outgoing person with an openness to meeting new people, visiting new places and an eagerness to create and establish an independent lifestyle.


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“In April 2017, my whole world changed the day before I left (New Zealand).

“I was drugged, raped, violated and filmed by two men who I considered to be my employers.

“After the assault, I was left with bruising all over my chest, breasts and thighs and I had a large cut on my lips.

“Every time I got into the shower or changed clothes and looked down at my body, I was reminded of the night that you chose to take my autonomy away from me.

“I remember getting in the shower the next day and scrubbing my skin hoping that the repulsive feeling I could wash away.

“I found myself left with emotional injuries that would only increase in severity.


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“The longer the time went on, my body didn’t feel like mine anymore. I went from somebody who liked who I was to someone who was repulsed with what I saw in the mirror.

“I became so sickened by taking my clothes off and washing my body in the shower that I would avoid showering for as long as I could so I didn’t have to look at myself and be reminded me of how exposed and vulnerable that you left me that night.”

She said when she came back to Christchurch after her overseas trip her behaviour was extremely unsafe.

“I became reckless to the point I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. I became the shell of my former self and I was dismissive towards the people that cared about me the most because I no longer trusted anyone.

“I can’t count the number of sleepless nights that I had when I heard noises in my home, and I was paranoid thinking it could have been one of you… I was so scared.

“I ended up sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of my hallway because I felt like I was losing my mind.


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“It got so bad that I contemplated taking my life more than once and started thinking of the least painful ways to go.”

She got professional help and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression and anxiety.

She could not work for 18 months due to her fragile mental health.

She constantly looked over her shoulder when she was away from home, terrified she would see one of the Jaz brothers.

“Every time I saw a similar model of car that I associated with your family, I’d freeze and have to double check it wasn’t one of you,” she said.

The woman said the trial was a harrowing process for her.


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“I came here knowing that my integrity would be questioned during the trials of what you did,” she said.

“I thought you looked at me as an employee who worked for your family business, but I was never anything to you but an opportunity… you betrayed my trust and used your power dynamic to drug me so you could take whatever you wanted from me with no consequences.

“When you got in my most vulnerable state, you not only raped me, you filmed it and then lied about having the video – you lied about all of it, which meant that myself and others had to go through a five year process of being retraumatised… and having to listen to 11 pages of someone reading the transcript of me being raped on a film.”

She said the sex offending siblings had barned her “physically, emotionally, psychologically” and “robbed” her financially.

They also took her right to self-love and her trust in people.

“You took away my trust and you took away my right to live as a young carefree woman without fear,” she said.


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“I had to leave cities because I was so scared of you.

“Then I moved countries for a year because of my mental health.

Crown Prosecutor Andrew McRae will seek a lengthy stint in prison for the Jaz brothers. Photo / George Heard
Crown Prosecutor Andrew McRae will seek a lengthy stint in prison for the Jaz brothers. Photo / George Heard

“After the incident, I broke the hearts of my mother, my father, my brothers, my friends in telling them what you did to me – and not once have you taken any accountability for what you’ve done.

‘But I need to make it very clear that despite all of this, you didn’t take anything from me that I haven’t recovered from in great strides.

“I have regained so much after what you did. I have retaught myself to love and feel love. I worked hard to get a career that I adore that revolves around healing, advocating for and protecting people.

“I have built an incredibly strong relationship with my family through all this and I’m working my way up the ranks in a martial arts so I can protect myself and eventually help others do the same.


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“Despite my scars, I am so loved and supported… because of what you did I know that I will always have to work on myself and remind myself each day that I deserve love in all of its forms.

“But I can finally say that I feel this dark cloud clearing.”

The woman thanked the police who she said “worked countless hours fighting for justice, for myself and others” and the Crown Prosecutors who “ensure I felt as calm as possible in such an intimidating environment”.

“They have worked incredibly hard to hold these men accountable,” she said.

“My counsellor who has worked alongside me for years and helped me breath – and accept the loss of my former self.”

She said she refused to let the assault define her.


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“This incident will not be who I am – and my trauma is not who I am,” she told the rapists.

“You are not a part of who I am and you can’t make a difference anymore.

Sentencing continues – fate of brothers to be revealed after 2pm

The court heard that a number of other women had written statements ahead of sentencing but did not want them read at the hearing.

Judge Mabey confirmed he had read them all in full.

Other victims did not want to provide statements.

Judge Mabey KC is now hearing submissions from the Crown and defence on what the offenders sentence should be.


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Crown Prosecutor Andrew McRae will seek a starting point of 18 to 20 years in prison for each of the Jaz brothers.

He noted Judge Mabey KC’s description of the men in his verdict decision.

In the 169-page judgement he said Danny and Roberto Jaz had an “arrogant, entitled and hubristic approach” to young women who came within their orbit and were “indifferent to their rights and indifferent to consent”.

“During the conduct of their business at Mama Hooch hose women were seen as fair game – with the defendants being indifferent to consent and indifferent to the rights of the women, the brave survivors,” McRae said.

“The Crown say that this is sustained predatory behaviour, where the defendants used their business premises, really as a way to target the vulnerable.

“Those patrons were entitled to the trust – for all intents and purposes – of the people that were running the bar, at any given time.


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‘That trust was essentially destroyed for the defendant’s own self-interest.”

McRae said the offenders used social media messaging “across a, a wide friend group” to “brag about their exploits”.

“It essentially encouraged them to have greater and greater levels of brazenness in relation to their offending.

“And that was completely without any consideration of the consent or of the willingness of their victims.”

He said the offending had “major” effects on each survivor.

“And indeed, it was only through the courage of those survivors that the true scale of what had been going on at the bar and at, at the neighbouring restaurant… were brought to light,” McRae told the court.


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“The offending occurred over a relatively lengthy period of time… and even as we look at it today, five years on, there’s really no real appreciation from the defendants in terms of the effects of the offending upon those survivors upon those of those victims.

“There’s no real remorse. There’s no insight into the behaviours that actually caused the offending.”

The submissions continue.

Judge Mabey has indicated he will hand down his final sentence after the lunch adjournment.

Operation Sinatra: the unravelling of the Mama Hooch rapists

The drugging and assaults took place at Mama Hooch and Venuti – a bar and restaurant owned by their father Michael Jaz, between 2015 and 2018.

Danny Jaz was a duty bar manager at Mama Hooch and Roberto Jaz was the chef at Venuti.


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Both venues have been shut down since the men were charged.

Their downfall came after two 18-year-old women went to the police and reported they had been drugged and sexually assaulted at Venuti by Roberto Jaz.

The complaint led to dozens more women coming forward and a major police investigation dubbed Operation Sinatra.

The Jaz brothers were arrested and charged in 2018 and went on trial in February this year.

They had elected trial by jury but three days before the process was set to begin they changed their position and sought trial by Judge Mabey alone.

Two other men were charged alongside the Jaz brothers. One was acquitted on all sex and drug charges except one of offering to supply a Class B drug. He was discharged without conviction. The other was acquitted on a single sexual assault charge.


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Both were granted permanent name suppression.

In July Judge Mabey released a 162-page judgment with the reason for each verdict.

Throughout, he lambasts the predatory brothers saying they had a consistent and established propensity to “show a sexual interest in, and to target for sexual purposes, patrons and staff of Mama Hooch”.

Further, the siblings had an “arrogant, entitled and hubristic approach” to young women who came within their orbit and were “indifferent to their rights and indifferent to consent”.

He said Roberto Jaz used Venuti “as a venue for sexual contact, both consensual and non-consensual” and “as a place to drug females and offend against them without their consent or any possible reasonable belief in consent”.

Roberto Jaz had a “willingness to exploit females as playthings who exist for his benefit and whose rights for which he has complete disregard”, said the Judge.


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Danny Jaz was equally indifferent to consent and Judge Mabey outlined a number of examples where he drugged women then “positioned himself in a way that enabled him to take the complainant into a toilet cubicle and commit a sexual assault.

“He not only administered the drink for that purpose, he monitored her until such time as she and her friend had moved sufficiently forward in the queue to be entering the toilet when he went in with them and closed the door,” he said of one assault Danny Jaz was convicted of.

“I consider this is an occasion similar to [another victim’s experience]. Danny Jaz has targeted [her] and has ensured that he ended up in the toilet with her. He sexually violated her.”

Following the trial, the head of Operation Sinatra sat down with the Herald to speak about the case.

“These guys knew they had a market and they just made them vulnerable – they treated them like rock stars,” said Detective Inspector Scott Anderson.

“It’s scary.”


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Detective Inspector Scott Anderson led the investigation into the Mama Hooch rapists. Photo /  George Heard
Detective Inspector Scott Anderson led the investigation into the Mama Hooch rapists. Photo / George Heard

Anderson said there was only one word to describe the Jaz brothers.

“Predators. When you look at how the whole thing ran at Mama Hooch – it was total predatory behaviour.

“They were living out some kind of fantasy… they thought they could do whatever they liked with whoever fell in front of them.

“I really think their WhatsApp [and other group chats] was an unfiltered insight into how they lived their lives – an unfiltered look into their lives.

“Some people will say it’s ‘boys being boys’ or ‘locker room chat’ but it’s actually what happened and it ended with sexual offending.

“It was a real insight into how they mistreated and disrespected women.”


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