SBS withdraws Punchbowl documentary after doubts on gang member
Update: SBS has now withdrawn Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl from its schedule after embarrassing revelations about one of its participants.
The series which looks at the “inside story of the Lebanese community” follows on from Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta, and airs in early January.
Heavily-tattooed Michael LaHoud, who features in promotions for the show, told the Sunday Telegraph that he was sentenced to four and a half years in jail in 2007 for armed robbery, serving time at Long Bay, Silverwater and Goulburn jails.
But News Corp reports he spent four days on remand in Silverwater, with no record of him at Long Bay or Goulburn.
He claims to have been a member of the notorious Telopea Street crime gang.
But police experts have no recollection of him being part of that gang.
He also claims to have fathered three children to his partner during jail visits.
The newspaper also reports there is no provision for conjugal visits in the NSW prison system.
“SBS takes your query seriously and is investigating the matter,” a spokeswoman told the newspaper.
LaHoud features in episodes 2, 3 and 4 of the 4 part series, which includes his mother and other police experts.
SBS began removing LaHoud from the show’s on-air promotions.
The flagship series is produced by Northern Pictures.
Press Kit biography:
Michael LaHoud’s turbulent life began one year after he was born when his parent’s marriage collapses leaving Wendy to support her family alone. Michael’s life in crime began when he was expelled from Punchbowl Boys High for hitting a teacher. At 14, Michael began covering his entire body with tattoos as a way of expressing his alienation from mainstream society. Then at 15, Michael became a drug runner. The street gangs of Telopea St, Punchbowl became his new family. As a teenage gangster Michael served time in juvenile detention. He would later be sentenced to a jail term in Silverwater maximum-security prison. After experiencing the brutality of prison Michael finally turned away from crime. Becoming a father of three daughters has helped Michael start a new life.
SBS has released a statement that it has withdrawn the series from its January schedule.
Michael LaHoud is one of a number of interviewees that feature in the documentary series Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl, which explores the history of the Lebanese-Australian community in Sydney’s south-west, the challenges the community has faced and how they have fought to overcome them.
This is a follow-up series to the award-winning Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta.
The integrity and accuracy of SBS programming and respect for our audience is paramount, therefore the network has decided to remove the series from its schedule until full investigations are carried out to its satisfaction.
SBS will work with its production partner Northern Pictures to review and verify the documentary’s material.
Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl will air later in 2014.