kingpin Mark Ahern seeks bail on strip club arson charge
arrested over Kittens arson attack
Police arrest a man over the Kittens strip club arson
A Comancheros treasurer accused of
starting a fire at a Kittens strip club is also suspected of links to
other shootings, a court has heard.
Police believe Mark Ahern and another
man started a blaze that caused almost $400,000 of damage to the Kittens
club in the early hours of February 16, after they pulled a vent from
the roof and gained entry through the hole.
The fire also damaged a neighbouring
apartment complex and forced the evacuation of eight residents, the
Mark Ahern is seeking bail over arson
charges. Photo: Penny Stephens
Mr Ahern, 32, who is charged with two
counts of arson and single charges of reckless conduct endangering
death, receiving stolen goods and possessing a prohibited weapon, is the
treasurer of the Melbourne chapter of the Comancheros motorcycle gang,
Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Friday.
Detective Senior Constable Ben Shawyer
of the anti-bikie Echo Taskforce told the court Mr Ahern had been caught
on a CCTV camera in the vicinity of the club and that droplets of his
blood were found at the scene.
A burnt-out stolen BMW was found
outside a Hallam house that morning, Detective Senior Constable Shawyer
said, not far from where an associate of Mr Ahern's lived.
Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road,
Caulfield South was hit by an arson attack in February.
Photo: Eddie Jim
The BMW's proximity key was found at
the scene of the fire, the court heard.
The court heard police believed the
Comancheros were responsible for the attack on the Kittens club in
Caulfield and also for three drive-by shootings at the Kittens club in
South Melbourne, the scene of shootings last November, in January and
Security guards were injured in the
first two of those shootings.
The clean up at Kittens Club on Glen
Huntly Road, Caulfield South. Photo: Eddie Jim
Detective Senior Constable Shawyer
said police were investigating Mr Ahern over the alleged extortion and
assault of a man whose work tools were found in Mr Ahern's garage and
whose utility was involved in one of the shootings at Kittens in South
That man had shots fired at his home
while he and his partner were in bed asleep, after he reported the
alleged extortion to police, the court heard.
One of Mr Ahern's fingerprints was
also found on packaging for ammunition similar to that used in a
shooting at a Preston restaurant in October last year, the detective
Mr Ahern has been in custody since
February and on Friday applied for bail.
Police opposed his bid over concerns
he would offend if released and contact prosecution witnesses.
Magistrate Luisa Bazzani reserved her
decision until Thursday.
Defence counsel Phillip Dunn, QC, said
Ms Bazzani could address police concerns if she imposed a condition Mr Ahern
not associate with Comancheros, abide by a curfew, be barred from
visiting some suburbs and report to police daily.
Mr Ahern's mother, Lorraine, told the
court she would put up one of her family's investment properties as
surety, and would monitor her son closely if granted bail.
"He knows he is on death row," she
The court heard Mr Ahern would face a
delay of at least a year in custody before trial if denied bail.
During cross-examination of the
detective, Mr Dunn raised doubts over whether his client could fit
through the hole in the Kittens roof, as he was 186 centimetres tall and
weighed more than 100 kilograms, and a fire expert had said only someone
of modest proportions could fit.
Prosecutor Sharn Coombes described the
case against Mr Ahern as a strong one and opposed bail, as Mr Ahern
would find it easy to associate with other Comancheros.
The club has 200 members in Victoria,
the court heard.
"Clearly the grudge [against
Kittens] is a shared one," she said.