© Provided by ABC News
Bandidos have been charged with a range of offences
following their Tasmanian visit.
A man who infiltrated the
Bandidos bikie gang has become the first known
refugee from Australia after an overseas tribunal
found he was abandoned by local authorities who blew
The ABC can reveal that
former outlaw motorcycle gang insider Stevan Utah
won the landmark asylum claim in Canada.
Canada's Immigration and
Refugee Board (IRB) accepted evidence that there
were murder contracts placed on Mr Utah's life after
he was recruited by the Australian Crime Commission
(ACC) for a national operation against bikie gangs.
In a ruling that condemned
the actions of Australian authorities, the IRB found
the country failed to offer Mr Utah adequate
protection amid a "broader pattern due to
corruption, ineptitude and structural difficulties".
It found Australia's top
crime agency "outed the claimant as an informant"
with a 2006 media release "divulging that they had a
source" in the Bandidos.
Months later Mr Utah fled
Australia after what the IRB accepted was a brutal
attempt on his life by some Bandidos members on the
Sunshine Coast hinterland.
He has since spent more
than a decade in hiding and legal limbo.
The former soldier, who
gave authorities information on serious crimes
including murder, was a "significant target for the
[Bandidos] leadership given his depth of knowledge
and history with them and his subsequent betrayal",
the IRB said.
It referred to active
contracts for Mr Utah's killing and expert testimony
that Bandidos "would have had his murder arranged"
had they known he was in Canada.
His role with the ACC
included leading investigators to the body of
Victorian man Earl Mooring four years after his
murder, which Mr Utah said he witnessed.
'I am now not Australian',
says Mr Utah
Mr Utah told the ABC in a
statement he was "pleased for Australia" that new
anti-gang and corruption entities had formed since
"But the fact is, I am now
not Australian," he said.
"Protection is questionable
at best and it was found there is not and was not
any 'internal flight avenue' available to me.
"What was done to me years
ago is not the cause of current serving members of
policing agencies … nor did the sitting [Federal]
Government do this to me.
"But the institutions they
currently serve most certainly did."
'Only case I'm aware of':
University international law expert Matthew Zagor
said the refugee protection ruling on September 29
last year was unprecedented.
"This is the only case that
I'm aware of, of an Australian citizen being
recognised overseas by a tribunal on the basis that
there's an absence of state protection," Associate
Professor Zagor said.
He said Canada had a very
thorough process for determining refugee and
"It's a difficult argument
to make, no doubt," he said.
In a written judgment
obtained by the ABC, IRB member Jodie Schmalzbauer
found Mr Utah "established with 'clear and
convincing evidence' the state's inability to
provide operational adequate protection from the
threat against him".
"I do find that the
claimant would more likely than not face a serious
risk to his life, almost immediately on his return
to Australia," Ms Schmalzbauer said.
Bikie informant 'most
dangerous job in the world'
Former detective Duncan
McNab, who wrote a book about Mr Utah and gave
evidence in the IRB hearing, said it was an
extraordinary twist to a policing scandal that
should never have happened.
"I think it's a great
embarrassment that another country has said that we
can't handle our registered agents, our undercover
people, properly, fairly and humanely as well," Mr
"What I really hope this
does is ensure that the Utah mistakes don't happen
again, that we look after these poor buggers placed
in such dangerous circumstances.
"The most dangerous job
in the world, I reckon, being undercover in the
Bandidos bike gang."
The ACC, who paid Mr Utah
as a registered agent and gave him certain legal
immunity while he operated inside the Bandidos,
removed him from "protective custody" after his
cover was blown.
No Australian agency gave
evidence in the Canadian hearing.
But Ms Schmalzbauer said
the IRB had "no reason to discount" Mr Utah's
account that the ACC had told him "he was done from
the program ... and no other measure to protect him
She accepted that
authorities were "either unwilling or unable to
provide protection to him at that time" and had
since indicated "he has no access to relocation or
any other form of witness protection".
She said Mr Utah's lawyer
in Australia, Chris Hannay, had exhausted all
options by approaching agencies, including
Queensland Police, that had "jurisdiction to provide
the claimant protective custody given the nature of
his evidence in the murder that he witnessed".
Mr Hannay told the ABC such
protection would have been necessary for Mr Utah to
return to Australia to address historical fraud
charges in Queensland, which were withdrawn then
Australian judge raised
Emails seen by the ABC
suggest the ACC discussed with Mr Utah the
delivering of a "sealed document", to support him in
the District Court in Brisbane in 2006.
22/08/2006, 9:31 pm
"Will you please
contact my solicitor Mark Hartwell, he tells me
you haven't and is feeling rather anxious about
your intentions in relation to a sealed
document. Respectfully, I am beginning to feel
the same anxiety.
22/08/2006, 10.08 pm
A week later, Judge Helen
O'Sullivan emailed lawyers in the case, raising
concerns about the "complex issue of Mr Utah's fears
for his safety" after he had fled.
"I know nothing about what
(if any) protection is currently being offered or
could be offered" to Mr Utah, she said.
Law enforcement had 'head
in the sand'
Mr Hannay told the ABC this
month: "There was a grave concern he'd be executed
in a jail, which is not uncommon, or he would be
executed if he was allowed at large on bail."
"His only real alternative
was to stay where he was [in Canada]."
Mr Hannay accused
Australian law enforcement of having their "head in
the sand" in relation to Mr Utah's safety.
He said his client had
"assisted authorities with some significant matters
that resulted in a number of arrests for very, very
serious offences" but negotiations involving police
agencies had "disintegrated".
The IRB was scathing in its
summation of Australian authorities in Mr Utah's
"Although the state should
not be obliged to guarantee perfect protection,
there does appear to the panel to be a broader
pattern due to corruption, ineptness and structural
difficulties that when confronted with motivated and
capable [outlaw motorcycle gangs] … that effective
protection is not forthcoming, to informants or
The IRB noted the higher
burden of evidence required for an asylum seeker
from a "highly-developed democracy such as
But it found Mr Utah gave
"forthright, spontaneous and credible testimony"
backed by "numerous credible witnesses", including
two Canadian organised crime detectives and a former
NSW gang squad intelligence officer.
Mr McNab said he had spoken
to police who benefited from information Mr Utah
"We're talking about drug
deals, drug imports, meth labs, murder for hire,
assaults for hire, the importation of firearms," he
"The guy is an
invaluable asset … it's just damn sad it was
handled so badly."
Neither the ACC's
successor, the Australian Criminal Intelligence
Commission (ACIC), nor the Queensland Police Service
(QPS) answered detailed questions from the ABC.
An ACIC spokeswoman said it
did not "comment on operational matters … as a
matter of policy".
"This includes confirming
or denying involvement in the ACIC's and the former
Australian Crime Commission's human intelligence
source [informants] capability," she said.
The QPS did not give any
Queensland's Crime and
Corruption Commission said it could not comment on
whether it was aware of contracts on Mr Utah's life.