Bikie jailed for driveway shooting
CHRISTIANA JONES, The West Australian May 31, 2012, 11:52 am
A Perth bikie jailed today over a suburban shooting on a rival gang chief will do it "hard" in jail with the court told he had already been stabbed through the neck with a sharpened broom handle while behind bars.
Benjamin Sipkes, a member of the Rock Machine's "militia", was sentenced to six years and four months jail for shooting Rebels WA president Nick Martin as he parked his Harley-Davidson at his Balcatta home on March 18 last year.
Mr Martin, whose gang was in conflict with the Rock Machine, was hit by a bullet in his elbow.
A Supreme Court jury last month acquitted Sipkes of attempted murder but convicted him of unlawful wounding with intent.
Today, Justice Stephen Hall said Sipkes' premeditated crime had been inherently dangerous given it was on a moving target in a residential area, with evidence at trial that the bullets could have travelled two kilometres.
Sipkes had fired three rounds before the weapon jammed, the court heard.
Justice Hall said it was fortuitous a worse injury did not occur and that the crime showed a willingness to be involved in lawlessness and a challenge to the police in maintaining law and order in the community.
But the judge also noted that Sipkes would "serve his time hard" behind bars because the bikie would have to be kept in protective custody.
The court heard details from Sipkes' defence lawyer Malcolm Ayoub that the bikie had been the victim of a serious attack already behind bars during which a sharpened broom handle was stabbed through his neck, requiring surgery for it to be removed.
During sentencing, the judge noted that Sipkes - an identical twin - had been described by his mother as a loving son for whom low self esteem may have prompted his decision to join an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Justice Hall said the observation was astute, also noting there had been a suggestion Sipkes was motivated to establish an independent identity given he was an identical twin and had enjoyed the sense of belonging and security of a motorcycle gang.
Sipkes, who has 11-year-old twins, was described as warm and polite, with the court told a woman who had been in a relationship at the time of his crime and who had disapproved of his shooting plan had still maintained positive feelings for him despite the danger he had placed her in.
But the prosecution stressed that Sipkes had made a choice to join the Rock Machine gang, submitting that the hardship he would face in jail could not be compared to the hardship suffered by offenders from remote communities who suffered severe isolation when incarcerated in Perth.
Justice Hall told Sipkes no amount of fraternal bonding could have justified his crime.
Sipkes will be eligible to apply for parole after serving four years and four months.