Prison bashing victim Nelson Patea converts to Islam
THE brother of convicted killer Lionel Patea has converted to Islam while behind bars as sources say a growing number of prisoners move to identify with the Muslim faith for "protection" while in Queensland jails.
It comes as the Bulletin earlier revealed Nelson Patea was attacked by a Mongols-linked prison gang over drugs at Woodford Correctional Centre last month and taken to hospital.
The 27-year-old had his parole cancelled this year after he was charged with a number of fresh criminal offences.
Nelson Patea was sentenced to eight years' jail in 2018 for the manslaughter of Queensland father Greg Dufty.
Mr Dufty was beaten to death in the Gold Coast Hinterland in July 2015.
Legal and police sources say Nelson now identifies with the Muslim faith and converted to Islam while in the state's largest jail.
Mongols bikies are active inside the Woodford Correctional Centre alongside Muslim group Ummah United, corrections sources told the Bulletin.
Many prisoners convert to Islam in order to secure protection from groups active within the jail.
"There is a high rate of conversion," one legal source said.
"For the younger, more vulnerable prisoners it is about protection, but some who have converted have taken me by surprise."
Prison sources said inmates converted to Islam for "protection" and "support" - and also fed into the gang mentality.
"For others it's about a brotherhood," one source said.
An officer told the Bulletin that while converted prisoners were "not supposed to attack others" they would come to the aid of other inmates of the same faith.
The officer said previously prisoners would convert for the different food, but now "the majority of food served to prisoners is supposed to be halal".
Defence solicitor Danielle Heable, from Dib and Associates, said that while she heard some offenders converted to Islam for "protection" in jail, a large number of converts remained adherent to the faith after being released from custody.
"I have been told by clients they are attracted to the religion because it promotes repentance and is a collegiate faith," she said.
"It gives them a sense of belonging and unity which many of them did not experience growing up."
A Queensland Police spokeswoman said all people detained in Queensland watch-houses were treated in accordance with the Queensland human rights legislation.
"Individuals are not asked to provide religion details on entry to a watch-house," she said.
"Prisoners are asked about dietary requirements such as allergies and medical conditions (eg soft diet) with people volunteering specific requests such as being vegan or religious requests such a halal or kosher foods."
Shortly after being jailed over the murder of his former partner Tara Brown, Lionel Patea converted to Islam to "rehabilitate" himself.
The ex-bikie extortion king became a Muslim and asked to be "ultimately judged by God" on the day he was sentenced for Ms Brown's death.
Patea's defence lawyer, Campbell MacCallum, said his conversion was motivated by being apart from his family and having less support while behind bars.
"His mother has always been his strongest support base and he doesn't have access to her in prison," he said in 2017.
Lionel Patea also pleaded guilty to Mr Dufty's murder.
He is serving his sentences at Capricornia Correctional Centre and is not eligible for release until 2048.
Mr MacCallum told the Bulletin this week that in conversations with Nelson Patea, the man said he had converted to the same faith as his brother "some time ago".
Originally published as Prison bashing victim Nelson Patea converts to Islam