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A far from ordinary day as Mercanti walks free

RONAN O'CONNELL, YOLANDA ZAW, GABRIELLE KNOWLES and BRIDGET LACY, The West Australian August 3, 2011, 2:58 am

 

A far from ordinary day as Mercanti walks free

The West Australian

 

 

The numberplate on the stretch limousine read "Elaborate", which was apt as there was nothing mundane about Troy Mercanti's first day as a free man in more than two years.

Even before Mercanti strode out of Casuarina Prison yesterday, its carpark was a strange scene populated by a group of scruffy bikies and a nest of TV cameras, reporters and photographers, many of whom had been waiting in the cold since before 7am.

Police in an unmarked car circled the prison, patrolling local streets and interrogating anyone who looked out of place in an effort to ensure Mercanti's release did not coincide with a bikie bloodbath.

Then the gleaming Chrysler limousine cruised into view, just as the man everyone had gathered to see made his first appearance about 9am.

The Coffin Cheater turned Finks bikie was warmly greeted by a throng of his cohorts, who tried to squeeze the life from him with man-sized bear hugs.

Wearing a Finks T-shirt emblazoned with the number 66 - code for Finks Forever - sandwiched between the words "Attitude" and "Violence", the noticeably slimmer Mercanti was clutching a green suit bag and a small cardboard box that likely contained the few measly possessions prisoners are allowed.

He wasted little time in climbing into the waiting limousine. In an overt show of strength, the vehicle was shadowed by two cars bursting with snarling Finks as it left.

News crews assembled at the Finks Balga clubhouse and outside Mercanti's Duncraig home. Locals smiled knowingly when they saw the media. "So he's out of prison, hey," one man remarked.

Shortly before 10am, the convoy pulled into Granadilla Street and filled the wide driveway of Mercanti's expansive and well-secured abode.

Unfazed by the attention, Mercanti strolled into the home he shares with partner Tammy Kingdon and their two children. The media was left to listen to the raucous laughter that rippled from the rear of the home.

Thirty minutes later, two Finks members left the house before returning with a supply of beer. The celebration continued for another 90 minutes before Mercanti hopped into a four-wheel drive with his mates while his family loaded into another vehicle.

They gave a one-fingered wave goodbye to the media and drove about 5km to the Balga clubhouse - a nondescript property that Kingdon bought with $54,000 she stole from a Coffin Cheaters trust fund set up for the daughters of a slain member and a dead associate in 2008. She was in February given a suspended two-year jail term for the theft. The District Court was told at the time that Kingdon planned to split with Mercanti and leave Perth with her sons.

Yesterday that seemed unlikely, despite the court being told that the couple had a stormy relationship marred by physical and mental abuse. Mercanti's mother Yvonne even testified that she had once seen her son knock out Kingdon's teeth.

Bikies who sauntered out of the clubhouse, which could become a focal point in a war between the Finks and Coffin Cheaters, embraced Mercanti before he went inside. He was soon back outside kicking a footy with his kids.

It was the first time all day that he had looked like an ordinary father rather than a fearsome outlaw.

Later, a female reporter who tried to move her car found the battery was flat. With her colleague unable to help, she turned to Mercanti and asked if he had any jumper leads. Obligingly, he went inside and returned with half a dozen mates, one of whom was clutching the necessary appliance.

The bikie jumpstarted her car, much to the amusement of all who were present. "See, we're not all that bad," one of the bikies quipped.

It was yet another bizarre event in a day that was anything but ordinary.

See the video of Mercanti leaving prison at


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