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A Canberra judge has chastised two men over their role in an extortion, saying while he understands motorcycle clubs can provide camaraderie, membership of criminal gangs should be "discouraged".
Justice Michael Elkaim made the comments in the ACT Supreme Court while sentencing Alex Bourne, 30, and Connor Manns, 19, over the extortion of a small-time drug dealer.
Bourne was today also sentenced for intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm — after he smashed another drug dealer's hand with a sledgehammer — and possessing illicit drugs and a stolen motorcycle.
Justice Elkaim told the court Bourne's criminal activities had been closely linked to his membership of the Comancheros, and earlier the Rebels bikie gang.
And he said Bourne had indicated he plans to re-join the club when he got out of jail.
"This is indeed unfortunate," Justice Elkaim said.
"I can understand that a club can provide comradeship and assist an interest in, for example, motorcycles.
"However, when that club is apparently more interested in carrying out criminal conduct than lawful and legitimate activities, membership is to be discouraged."
He said he was also concerned about evidence suggesting Bourne engaged "in violent conduct with little provocation".
And while Justice Elkaim acknowledged Bourne's pleas of guilty, he said he had to make a strong statement of general deterrence in sentencing him.
Bourne was sentenced to eight years and eight months in jail for his multiple charges and will not be eligible for parole until 2023.
In sentencing Manns for his part in the extortion charges, Justice Elkaim warned he was at a fork in the road.
"When he committed the offences, he was essentially in the role of an apprentice — learning the awful trade of intimidation, violence and drug use," he said.
He noted Manns had shown remorse and could take the road to rehabilitation and the opportunity to live a normal life.
"Alternatively he could complete his apprenticeship and look forward to many years in which his unlawful career will be interspersed with significant time in prison," Justice Elkaim said.
Manns was sentenced to 18 months' jail.
He has already served 11 months, and the rest of his sentence was suspended.