Police under fire for bikie raids and press
LAWYERS have questioned the level of force used in a
series of raids on the Sunshine Coast that allegedly led to glass slivers
from a smashed door being sprayed across a cot normally occupied by a
They said their clients were treated as sub-human in what
was a developing and disturbing trend since the introduction of the Vicious
Lawless Association Disestablishment laws last October.
Militarised US-style swat raids appear to have ramped up
ahead of a full bench of the High Court challenge to the laws that starts on
In four raids conducted simultaneously on Friday last week
by the Sunshine Coast Gang Squad and Operation Maxima officers dressed in
full combat gear, police vehicles were driven through closed gates, and
doors smashed in, without warning or announcement.
Police immediately released video footage of the raids to
media, showing officers with guns drawn and handcuffing suspects.
The seizure of drugs, guns, money and gold bullion was
announced in press statements, suggesting the disruption of major crime.
The announcement said a pistol and ammunition were found
in specially constructed hidden compartments.
Lawyers for the group said the reality was police found
1.8 grams of marijuana - for which a drug diversion order was issued - a .22
pistol with ammunition and a replica wall-mounted AK-47.
They say the $13,000 cash seized had been stored in the
safe of one of those arrested and was working capital for his business. The
bullion was seven ounces of gold that represented the savings of the
businessman, Matt Carney, and his wife.
Queensland Council of Civil Liberties spokesman Terry
O'Gorman said there was growing concern at the militarisation of drug raids
where police were able to promote the slightest hint of bikie involvement.
Lawyer John Cook said the six-year-old son of one of his
clients had been taken to counselling after witnessing police smash into the
family home and put a gun to his father's head.
He was supported by criminal lawyer and former police
prosecutor Bob Butler, who described the behaviour as disgraceful.
Mr Butler said the penalties imposed by courts indicated
offences were not as had been suggested by police.
"Maxima officers and police on the Gold Coast have a
mindset encouraged by government that things like driving through gates
using unnecessary force was okay," Mr O'Gorman said.
"In recent weeks police media units had provided
exclusives to Newscorp as part of what appeared to be a deliberate strategy
to divide the media and to send a message to journalists that if they
co-operate they would be rewarded."
The Coast raids were triggered by images that appeared on
social media in June showing Matt Carney, the proprietor of a wilderness
backpacker camp at Noosa, his employee Jessie Hobson, Walter Wintle and Paul
"Max" Landsdowne holding in turn a replica AK-47 belonging to Mr Carney. The
pool room display piece had been taken from a wall in Mr Carney's home
during a barbecue.
It was not taken out of the home or carried in public.
Lansdowne is one of the Yandina Five and his presence at
the barbecue was in breach of his current bail conditions.
He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon
(photographed with the AK-47 replica), possession of explosives (a box of
.22 calibre bullets) and two bail breaches, for which he received three and
six months imprisonment suspended on the condition he be of good behaviour
for two years.
Mr Wintle pleaded guilty and was fined $500 for being in
possession of a weapon, with no conviction recorded, and Mr Carney, the
owner of the replica, was fined $1000 with the conviction recorded.
Mr Hobson, who had also been charged with having the
replica in his possession, was detained in custody until a Monday court
appearance, where he was released with no further punishment.
Lawyers for the men said police conducting the raids on
properties at Doonan, Eerwah Vale, Tewantin and Cooroibah did not knock and
announce themselves. Instead they smashed glass doors, pulled people from
beds and put guns to their heads shouting "on the ground c**t".
The men said their homes were turned upside down, clothes
pulled from cupboards and trampled on and flour and sugar tipped on to
kitchen benches in search