‘You can’t trust anyone’: How shooting left ‘The Punisher’ living in fear

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Professional boxer Suleiman “Sam” Abdulrahim says he lives in frequent fear of being gunned down after surviving being shot eight times, but he claims it’s his time behind bars that really damaged him.

The 31-year-old, who goes by the boxing name “The Punisher”, told a Supreme Court judge on Monday that he had been left constantly looking over his shoulder after the attack on his life but he no longer trusted police or “the system” after having his parole revoked in 2019.

Sam Abdulrahim arrives at court on Monday with his wife, Chloe Wakim Abdulrahim. Credit: Jason South

Abdulrahim has launched legal action against the Adult Parole Board for what he says was the unlawful revoking of his parole in June 2019.

The board threw him back behind bars following what it said were numerous threats on his life, but after he spent 72 days in jail, the Supreme Court quashed the decision and released him back into the community in August 2019.

During the first day of the judge-only hearing on Monday, Abdulrahim, who had been jailed over a 2015 car crash that killed an 88-year-old woman, told Justice John Dixon how the revoking of his parole, and his subsequent shooting, had affected his life.

“It’s hard. Who do you trust if you can’t trust the system properly? You have to trust your own honour and make your own judgment. You can’t trust anyone else,” he said.

“[I’m] worrying about police, worrying about being shot again.”

Abdulrahim at court.Credit: Jason South

Abdulrahim also described an attempted hit on his life which took place as he was leaving his cousin’s funeral service in Fawkner in June 2022, five days after the birth of his daughter.

“I went to his funeral. As I was leaving the funeral after the reception, I was stopped in traffic. As I stopped … they just started shooting. [They] shot me eight times,” Abdulrahim said.

“I’ve still got a bullet in my right kidney and limited movement in my right side. Sometimes it feels like too much.”

Abdulrahim in a photo from his Instagram page.Credit: Instagram

Abdulrahim told the court he spent two weeks in hospital following the shooting but ultimately discharged himself because he didn’t feel safe there. He now takes Valium to treat his mental health symptoms, he said.

When asked how the cancellation of his parole had affected his life, Abdulrahim said he no longer trusted the authorities and feared being shot again.

He said he would now always hear a knocking noise and fear it was the police.

“I’d just go to the front door and open it … no one was there. I started thinking I was going crazy,” he said. “I did not know what was going to happen, always looking over my shoulder, [thinking] are [the police] going to come grab me again.” he said.

Abdulrahim was jailed over a fatal 2015 crash after his high-powered Ferrari 360 Spider ended up on the wrong side of the road, clipping two vehicles and ploughing into a Mazda sedan in Reservoir.

The crash left 88-year-old Muriel Hullet in a coma and she died in hospital eight days later. Her daughter Lynette Vernall was left with serious injuries.

“I was driving my car, fast, changed lanes … clipped the curb because I was fast, hit my head on the roll cage and blanked out,” he recalled.

The scene of the fatal high-speed crash in Reservoir that Abdulrahim was involved in. Credit: Nine News

For that offending, Abdulrahim was sentenced to three years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years, after pleading guilty.

He was released on parole in March 2019, after serving 519 days’ pre-sentence detention, with conditions he not associate with members of outlaw motorcycle gangs or Middle Eastern organised crime.

But months later the Adult Parole Board revoked his parole, claiming Abdulrahim was a risk to the public by being out of jail after a series of attempts on his life including two shootings.

He was put back into custody in June 2019 and served the extra time largely in solitary confinement until Justice Paul Coghlan found the board acted beyond its powers and freed him again on August 23.

On Monday, Abdulrahim’s legal team alleged the revoking of his parole was unlawful and put him in danger. They claimed that when he was back in prison another inmate assaulted him with a rock and his privileges were revoked.

Muriel Hulett, who was killed in a crash invovling Suleiman “Sam” Abdulrahim

Abdulrahim told the judge he was also refused a Koran and a request to see a psychiatric nurse. He said he was now married, and gave his occupation as gym manager.

When asked about his membership of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang, Abdulrahim replied: “I’m not in that life any more”.

Corrections Victoria maintains revoking Abdulrahim’s parole was lawful. It claims Abdulrahim has had so many stressful and traumatic incidents in his life that the revoking of his parole was not one of them.

“We say imprisonment was lawful; that’s the short of it,” Corrections Victoria lawyer Liam Brown said.

The case continues.

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