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Police have stopped a simmering feud between Comanchero and Rebels bikies from escalating into a nation-wide war. Photo: Paul Harris
Negotiations between senior police and powerbrokers of the Rebels and Comanchero bikie gangs have stopped a simmering feud – involving vicious bashings, shootings and firebombings across Melbourne and Darwin – from escalating into a nation-wide war.
The decision to alter former Comanchero boss Mick Murray's $500,000 bail to allow him to holiday in Darwin inadvertently sparked the tensions. The distinctive Murray was spotted by Rebels in a local nightspot and set upon.
The bashing sparked retribution in Melbourne, but a meeting between office bearers of the clubs and senior police believed to have taken place in Sydney in the last fortnight has resulted in a truce.
Murray, who is awaiting trial, travelled to Darwin on April 29 – the day after his bail was altered – but it is unclear when the assault took place.
Murray faces charges of possessing firearms, testosterone and attempting to pervert the course of justice after allegedly intimidating a man into taking the blame for explosives found at the house of a Comanchero.
The retribution for the bashing reportedly included two Melbourne tattoo studios being firebombed and a house linked to a Rebels member being shot at six times while the man, his partner, and two young children were inside.
On May 20, six Comancheros were spotted at Darwin airport. The next day, Rebels Darwin president Jax Smith was gang-bashed outside the club's base in the suburb of Yarrawonga.
"They did CAT scans and everything. I'm fine," he told the NT News. "I don't even have any broken bones or anything."
But when Mr Smith fronted a charity ride that raised money for beyondblue on May 24, he was sporting a black left eye, and cuts and grazes to his nose, head and left arm.
In the meantime, a Melbourne tattoo studio had been firebombed. Rebels in Melbourne are suspected of destroying the Ink Life studio in Williamstown, believing it was linked to the Comancheros.
It is unclear whether Murray was badly injured in the assault, and when he returned to Victoria.
It is not the first time he has been assaulted interstate by rival gang members. In 2010, the heavily-tattooed Murray was punched and kicked by members of the gang Notorious when he was spotted walking along Campbell Parade in Bondi.
Murray pledged to leave the Comancheros during a bail application last year, and one of his bail conditions prevents him from contacting Comanchero members.
Mr Smith refused to weigh into police claims that his assault was because of a feud with a rival gang, and said he did not know his attackers.
"It would be irresponsible of me to say they belonged to a certain club – imagine if there was retaliation," he told the NT news. "I won't put other people at risk."
The Rebel who owned Valley Custom Tattoo – the studio in Seville that was destroyed on May 13 – has previously told Fairfax Media he did not believe the incident was related to bikies.
The peace deal struck between the clubs is tentative and requires the more erratic members of each gang to respect the directive of their leaders. Police would not comment on-record but it is understood they are confident the agreement will hold.
A spokeswoman for the force said in a statement that police actively monitored outlaw motorcycle gangs and were aware of escalating tensions between a number of groups.
"Given a number of investigations are ongoing we are not in a position to comment, including any methodologies used," the spokeswoman said.
April 28 Mick Murray's bail conditions altered for holiday in Darwin.
April 29 Murray leaves for Darwin. He is bashed some time that week.
May 12 Home of Rebels member in Beaconsfield, blasted with six shots. Partner and two children home at the time.
May 13 Valley Custom Tattoo in Seville, owned by a Rebel, destroyed in firebomb attack. Rebel-linked studio, Eastern Tattoo in Lilydale, also firebombed.
May 21 Jax Smith, president of Rebels Darwin chapter assaulted by six Comancheros.
May 22 Ink Life Tattoo Studio in Williamstown firebombed and destroyed. Rebels believed attack was Comanchero-linked.