Home Rides  Events Tech Links


Hundreds to dodge tough bikie laws after court decision

HUNDREDS of Queenslanders facing 15 to 25-year mandatory terms under the controversial bikie laws are set to have their charges downgraded after a landmark ruling found the laws didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

More than a dozen accused drug traffickers have already had the “aggravating” component of their charges dropped under the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD)after challenges or negotiation with prosecutors.

“Aggravating circumstance” under the VLAD laws meant 15 to 25-year mandatory sentences on top of any penalties for crimes such as drug trafficking.

The number of accused gang members or associates having the VLAD aspect of criminal charges removed is likely to swell to hundreds in coming months.

Judge Alan Wilson’s taskforce found the “aggravating circumstance” applied to 136 people charged last year. Picture: Philip Norrish

Bond University crime expert Terry Goldsworthy said the number of accused gang members or associates having the VLAD aspect of criminal charges removed would swell to hundreds in coming months after a precedent was set by alleged drug trafficking parents Ben and Sarah Hannan in the Supreme Court on July 26.

The precedent established that to be convicted under the VLAD aggravation law, an offender must be a member, associate, or office bearer of a “named group” – one of the 26 gangs declared to be criminal organisations.

Prof Goldsworthy said that as the Queensland Police Service had revealed that as of December 31 last year, 80 per cent of those charged under the Act were not outlaw motorcycle gang members, courts would not uphold this aspect of the charges.

Several criminal lawyers said this, combined with the Palaszczuk Government’s intention to repeal the VLAD laws, meant prosecutors had agreed to alter positions.

“Potentially up to 80 per cent of people charged under VLAD may have their charges thrown out,” Prof Goldsworthy said.

At the end of December last year, the QPS had charged 338 people with 1287 offences, alleging 202 were a vicious lawless associate and 136 were a participant in a crime gang as a circumstance of aggravation, according to the Taskforce on Organised Crime Legislation report chaired by former Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson.


Terrence John Thornbury


TERRENCE John Thornbury, 39, is set to plead guilty to running a cannabis ring that imported 2.4 tonnes of marijuana worth about $24 million into southeast Queensland on domestic Virgin flights.

He was charged as part of a syndicate under VLAD laws but negotiations with the Department of Public Prosecutions resulted in the “aggravating circumstance” being dropped.

Thornbury is listed for sentencing on October 18.


Ben and Sarah Hannan


UNEMPLOYED Helensvale couple Ben and Sarah Hannan are accused of running a multimillion- dollar underground cannabis crop in buried shipping containers.

Sarah was the first woman charged under VLAD laws. The couple and their co-accused, Scott Hannan, Matthew Gillis and Nicholas Murrell, successfully challenged the VLAD “aggravating circumstance” aspect of their charges in the Supreme Court.