Police chief fears for safety of bikie trial witnesses
From: The Daily Telegraph
July 03, 2010
NSW'S top cop has written to the court hearing the case against 13 bikies accused over the deadly Sydney Airport brawl, requesting that the identities of Crown witnesses be kept secret.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has signed an affidavit tendered in court to impose permanent pseudonyms on the witnesses ahead of next week's preliminary hearing of the case against Comanchero and Hells Angels members charged over the brawl in March last year.
In it Mr Scipione said outlaw motorcycle gangs were "recognised by police services at a state and federal level in Australia as organised crime groups".
He said police intelligence confirmed members had consistently been linked with serious crimes including "murder, the manufacture, cultivation and distribution of drugs, organised property theft, fraud, extortion, and offences related to the use and possession of firearms".
Most significantly, Mr Scipione argued that some members of bikie groups had a history of involvement in incidents where "because of the unavailability of witnesses willing to make statements to police and give evidence in a prosecution, charges were not laid, or were laid and then withdrawn, or the members were acquitted".
In his 17-page statement Mr Scipione said: "I believe that members of OMCGs, including members of the Comanchero and Hells Angels, have a propensity for extreme violence and have access to weapons, including firearms.
"Furthermore, police intelligence indicates that members of OMCGs have in the past intimidated and assaulted people who are due to give evidence against them in relation to criminal charges."
Mr Scipione said the Comanchero had recently opened chapters in Melbourne and Perth, where some key Crown witnesses in this case live.
"A number of witnesses have refused to give, or expressed reluctance or concerns about giving, evidence in relation to the charges currently before the court," he said.
"Police fear that if the names of civilian witnesses are disclosed, they may then be subject to reprisals."
The affidavit, signed on May 28 this year and served on all defendants in the case, was expected to be the subject of legal argument on Monday.