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Bikie brawl mars festival's big day

THE city's most family-friendly festival, Cooly Rocks On, was thrown into chaos after a violent bikie brawl erupted during the event's marquee weekend.

Witnesses said about a dozen Finks Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members leapt into a vicious melee at the vintage car festival on Saturday, throwing tables and chairs, while families dined on Marine Pde at Coolangatta.

A 61-year-old bystander was taken to The Tweed Hospital when a bikie punched him in the head for taking a photo of the fracas on his mobile phone.

The brawl outside Bellakai Restaurant, which took place on one of the busiest days of the festival, shocked community leaders and has prompted calls for action against bikies.

Festival organisers called the brawl "disappointing" and will meet police to discuss ways to keep thugs out of future events.

One witness, who did not want to be named fearing retribution, said he watched in horror while the fight broke out metres away from his daughter and two-year-old granddaughter.

He said a group of 12 Finks, wearing club colours and supporters gear, were walking down Marine Pde about 3.30pm when they set upon five men who stepped out of Bellakai Restaurant.

"They're absolute thugs," he said. "They picked up tables and chairs and were throwing them. You can't believe when you're family gets caught in it. I mean, she could have been hit with a table."

Bellakai Restaurant owner Kylie Hayden would not comment on the incident.

A police spokeswoman said the 61-year-old man took a photo when a classic car was damaged in the brawl.


She said one of the combatants demanded he hand over the phone, then hit him when he refused. The bikies then fled.

Cooly Rocks On organiser Gail O'Neil said she would seek a debrief with police to find out what happened and how to stop it happening again.

"We don't want that type of person here," Ms O'Neil said.

She said bikies were no longer keeping their battles out of the public eye. "It doesn't seem to matter where you are, if they're intent on doing something, they will do it."

Saturday's brawl is the latest in a list of public and frightening acts of bikie violence including the infamous Ballroom Blitz at the Royal Pines Resort in 2006 and last year's shooting at the Robina Town Centre.

There have also been a number of tattoo parlours understood to be linked to bikie gangs that have been firebombed.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the brawl was unacceptable and action was needed.

"I know the Gold Coast is fed up with bikie-related violence in the community," he said.

"We need to make sure Gold Coast police have the tools they need so residents and tourists can feel safe and comfortable in the streets, in their homes and at our great events."

Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey said she was shocked the violence had invaded such a laid-back and popular festival.

"It will not be tolerated -- I'm sure there will be an increased police presence to make sure it doesn't happen again," she said.

yesterday did not return the Bulletin's calls.

Other senior police were unwilling to comment.

The Supreme Court this year will hear debate on an application to declare the Gold Coast chapter of the Finks a criminal organisation.


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