Judge slams bikie 'code of silence'
October 26, 2012
THE last offender to be sentenced over a "shockingly vicious" and fatal brawl between warring bikie gangs at Sydney Airport will spend at least one more year behind bars.
Farres Abounader, 31, pleaded guilty to riot over the March 2009 brawl that resulted in the death of Anthony Zervas, the brother of Hells Angels member Peter Zervas.
Justice Robert Allan Hulme on Friday sentenced Abounader to a total six years with a non-parole period of four years. With time already served, he could be free from December 2013.
Justice Hulme told the NSW Supreme Court the airport brawl was "short-lived (but) shockingly vicious", and commended police for their response.
"The code of silence of outlaw motorcycle gangs is a matter of notoriety," he said, adding that all civilian witnesses were identified prior to trial by number, not name.
"It is unprecedented that the identity of so many witnesses was withheld from even the defence lawyers," Justice Hulme said.
"That is the measure of the fear which was held for the witnesses' sensitivities and safety."
Justice Hulme said one witness remembered the airport violence as a "frenzy", "too horrific" to watch. Another described praying as she sheltered her two young children from flying metal bollards.
Despite testimonials from Abounader's supporters, the judge said he could not accept that the offender was "genuinely remorseful" for his role in the violence.
Earlier on Friday, defence lawyer James Trevallion told the court he was seeking a sentence on par with those handed down to other offenders convicted on riot and affray charges.
The court heard that while Abounader had a trivial criminal record and did not participate in the bloody attack on Anthony Zervas, he had arranged for Comanchero members to arrive at the airport, and came armed with a knife.
"At one stage the offender attempted to take out the knife he had in his pocket but he accidentally cut his own hand," Justice Hulme said.
The confrontation on March 22, 2009 was prompted by a chance encounter on a Qantas flight from Melbourne.
Hells Angels president Derek Wainohu was on the plane along with five Comanchero.
Both sides alerted their gangs via mobile phone to have reinforcements meet them upon their arrival in Sydney.
Though he did not believe the riot was planned or pre-meditated, Justice Hulme said violence was "inevitable" because of a war between the two outlaw motorcycle gangs, the chance meeting on flight QF430 and a Comanchero culture that "prized loyalty and eschewed cowardice".
He noted that Abounader had never renounced his Comanchero membership.
Friends and family present in the court room on Friday sobbed as the sentence was handed down.
Mother Latifeh Abounader - whom the court heard maintains her son's innocence - wailed and yelled "my son (is) not a criminal" as she left the court, pleading with police officers to take care of the 31-year-old.
Outside the court, a woman who described herself as the offender's best friend of 17 years cried as she told AAP that Abounader was a changed man.
"He was turning his life around," she said.
"One year is too long ... other people are getting away with a lot more. That's not fair. That's not justice."
In 2011, Abounader was found not guilty of the murder of Anthony Zervas, while the jury could not reach a verdict on the alternative charge of manslaughter.
Comanchero national president Mahmoud Hawi was found guilty last November of the murder of Anthony Zervas.
Abounader is the last of 15 people to be prosecuted over the brawl.