Rival bikies spring to defence of Hells Angels
GEESCHE JACOBSEN CRIME EDITOR
July 7, 2010
AS POLICE moved to declare the Hells Angels a ''criminal organisation'' under new legislation yesterday, the bikie gang found an unlikely ally in its battle for survival: a rival gang helping fund a legal challenge.
The Comanchero are one of 17 other outlaw motorcycle gangs raising funds to challenge the NSW government's controversial legislation which was introduced after the deadly brawl at Sydney Airport last year.
Members of both the Comanchero and the Hells Angels will face court this week over the brawl in March 2009 in which a Hells Angels associate, Anthony Zervas, died.
Police announced yesterday the ''Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in NSW'', one of the state's smaller clubs, would be their first target. Police said they would allege its 45 to 50 members had committed crimes from murder to drug trafficking.
But while police filed about 30 folders of intelligence about members' activities in the Supreme Court yesterday, they said much of the information would remain unknown to the public.
The club - representing about 3 per cent of NSW bikies - was selected because police believed they had enough information to succeed with the application.
NSW police would not confirm if other clubs would be targeted. Assistant Commissioner David Hudson said police would like to see the laws tested, but were ''in a position to move forward if required''.
Mark ''Ferret'' Maroney, the chairman of the United Motorcycle Council, said he believed the timing of the application - on the eve of the committal of 13 bikies for their alleged role in the airport brawl - was deliberate. It was designed to make the public believe the legislation was aimed only at bikies, whereas it could be used against anyone, he said.
It would be difficult to fight against the use of ''secret police intelligence, which has been proven to be hearsay and innuendo many times''.
Lawyers and civil libertarians have criticised the legislation. Last Friday, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nick Cowdery, renewed his criticism of the ''very troubling'' legislation, saying it was ''another giant leap backward for human rights and the separation of powers''.
Mr Hudson said ''a great deal of thought'' had gone into the application, but a legal challenge of the process was ''always a concern''. No politician or senior police officer attended yesterday's announcement, perhaps a sign of these concerns.
The Police Minister, Michael Daley, said the laws had provided police with a weapon to disrupt and dismantle criminal groups and would target those involved in criminal activity.
''Preventing public acts of violence and protecting the rights of residents and innocent bystanders are our top priority.''
The case will be mentioned in the Supreme Court this month, but it is expected to take some time to reach its aim: stopping members of the Hells Angels from associating with one another. Until then, police activity against bikies would not change, the head of the gangs squad, Superintendent Mal Lanyon, said.
Similar legislation in South Australia had been ruled illegal, but was subject to a High Court appeal.
The office of the opposition police spokesman, Mike Gallacher, said the government should have pushed police to lodge their first application earlier. ''This is only the beginning, this is only one gang among many,'' he said.