What Mama Hooch predators Danny and Roberto Jaz are likely to face in prison

Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and rape.

A former prisoner says the Mama Hooch prisoners will likely spend time in segregation at Christchurch prison for their safety after one of the offenders was beaten in jail.  

Danny and Roberto Jaz were found guilty in April on a total of 69 sex and drugging crimes. 

The years of horrific offending were carried out at popular Christchurch bar Mama Hooch and restaurant Venuti - where the two men worked. The pair would target their young female customers, spiking their drinks and then often sexually assaulting or raping them. 

Last month, Roberto Jaz, 38, was assaulted by other inmates at Christchurch Men's Prison the day after the brothers lost name suppression.

Acting prison director Garron Star told Newshub staff had to break up a fight in a day room. After reviewing the CCTV footage they then found evidence of a further assault.

"One of the prisoners had been assaulted an hour earlier in an exercise yard by two prisoners, including the person involved in the day room incident," Star said in a statement.

The Jaz brothers are on remand while they await sentencing.

Earlier this week, the Department of Corrections confirmed to Newshub the assault did not take place in a segregation unit.

A former prisoner and president of advocacy group Canterbury's Howard League, Cosmo 'Cos' Jeffrey, said he was surprised the Jaz brothers were not sent to segregation straight away and imagines they have been moved there for their safety following the assault.

 Danny Jaz (left) and his younger sibling Roberto were convicted of a combined total of 69 crimes.
Danny Jaz (left) and his younger sibling Roberto were convicted of a combined total of 69 crimes. Photo credit: Newshub.

There are two ways a prisoner can be segregated, either directed or voluntary. Voluntary segregation is when a prisoner is separated for their physical or mental health, while directed is when prisoners are denied or restricted from associating with other prisoners either if their behaviour is a risk to others or to protect them from a potential threat.

"At any one time around one-third of the prison population are voluntarily segregated," Corrections NZ chief custodial officer Neil Beales said in a statement.

"At all times segregated prisoners continue to be provided with minimum entitlements set out in the Corrections Act. They also have regular and ongoing contact with Corrections staff, including our health services staff as required."

There are currently 102 voluntary segregation beds at Christchurch Men's Prison, made up of a mixture of single and double cells and their routines remain similar to mainstream prisoners while remaining in their area of the prison.

Jeffery spent time in a segregation unit back in the early 2000s.

"It can be really draining and taxing. It can often lead to a lot of aggression and violence," he said.

Due to the horrific nature of the Jaz brothers' case, Jeffery said the pair will likely be put back into segregation for their safety following sentencing. 

People who get locked up in segregation are generally people who can't survive in the mainstream units, he said.

"That means they have done pretty crazy things and they're often paedophiles and really unsavoury characters, so it's not a nice place to be," Jeffery said.

He also warned just because a prisoner is in protection doesn't mean they are safe from "getting a bashing".

Danny and Roberto Jaz are scheduled to be sentenced at Christchurch District Court on August 24 and 25.

Where to find help and support:

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666

  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

  • Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584