NSW Police have today lodged their first application under a so-called anti-bikie law to have the Hells Angels motorcycle gang declared a "criminal organisation".

The NSW government passed the law following a brawl at Sydney Airport in March last year in which Hells Angels associate Anthony Zervas was killed.

The application comes as 13 men from the Comanchero and Hells Angels clubs are about to face a committal hearing for their alleged roles in the brawl.


The Hells Angels club - one of the smaller outlaw motorcycle gangs - has undergone significant change since last year's airport brawl.

One of two Sydney chapters changed its president to notorious Sydney underworld figure Felix Lyle.

Its membership in NSW has risen from about 35-40

The details of today's Supreme Court application are yet to be revealed, but under the law the NSW Police Commissioner has to describe the "distinguishing characteristics" of the organisation, name its members, and set out the grounds for the application.

Bikies have, apart from the airport brawl, recently been associated with other serious assaults and drive-by shootings as well as drug offences.

Under the law, an "eligible" judge has to be satisfied that members of the organisation associate to organise, plan, facilitate, support or encourage serious criminal activity and that it represents a risk to the public safety and order in NSW. (Serious criminal activity has to be punishable by at least five years in prison.)

After an organisation is "declared", its members can be stopped from associating and working in certain professions.

Under similar laws in South Australia, the government tried to ban the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang, but that state's Supreme Court ruled the law invalid - a matter being challenged before the High Court.

The NSW legislation - the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act - has come under criticism from civil libertarians, lawyers and others, who point out that it does not specifically target bikies, but could be used to ban any organisation.

The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nick Cowdery, called the law "excessive" and warned about the erosion of rights.

The law allows the judge to hear certain information, such as police intelligence, in closed court and not make that information available to the targeted organisation or its lawyers.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set, but the case is expected to be lengthy and challenged to test the validity of the law in NSW.

Gangs Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Mal Lanyon said: "This is a significant step for the NSW Police Force in our continued effort to prevent criminal activity by Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members and to target their criminal enterprises.

"Through this first declaration application, police have today taken the first step in utilising the powers provided under the new legislation.

"The application, as prepared by the Criminal Organisation Unit attached to the Gangs Squad, has involved comprehensive investigation, evidence and information gathering, as well as legal work, in order to prepare a strong application.

"I am satisfied that a professional and thorough application has been presented to the Supreme Court today.

"Illegal activity committed by outlaw motorcycle gangs will not be tolerated by the NSW Police Force and, as such, the Gangs Squad, Strike Force Raptor, and other areas of the NSW Police Force will continue to target all levels of criminal activity," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Dave Hudson said, "The Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act has given police a powerful and important tool to assist in dealing with gangs involved in criminal activity.

"The act allows gang members to be put under control orders as determined by the court.

"Disrupting, restricting and dismantling OMCG criminal enterprise is a continued priority for the NSW Police Force," he said.

Geesche Jacobsen is the Herald's Crime Editor.