Bikies battle police powers in court
From: By Paige Taylor
May 02, 2006
LONG-RUNNING animosities between the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club and West Australian police spilled into the state's Supreme Court yesterday as the bikies challenged police orders to pull down part of their headquarters.
The Government's long-running battle to break the power of the motorcycle gang will now go to the state's highest court, as the Gypsy Jokers fight the "anti-fortification" laws specifically passed to enable the police to break up their redoubt in Perth's eastern suburbs and seize their assets.
The Jokers say it is outrageous, and unconstitutional, that the court is being asked to make its decision on whether to enforce the partial destruction of their fortress based on confidential supporting documentation from the police that they are not allowed to see.
Yesterday's court session marks the latest battle in a long-running war between police and the motorcycle gang which has involved a bombing and shooting.
The feud has centred on the October 2000 shooting death of gang member Billy Grierson, which many members blamed on former CIB chief Don Hancock. Hancock and his friend Lou Lewis were killed in a car bombing the following September.
Gypsy Joker Sidney Reid confessed to the murders of Hancock and Lewis, striking an unprecedented deal to testify against his mates in return for a 15-year jail term.
But the man he claimed had planned the bombing, Gypsy Joker sergeant-at-arms Graeme Slater, was acquitted of the murders by a jury.
Now the Gypsy Jokers are mounting a constitutional challenge to a section of the state Government's tough anti-fortification laws, introduced in 2003 to target their impenetrable headquarters.
The Corruption and Crime Commission Act 2003 allows police to issue "tear down" orders at a place that is "heavily fortified" or "habitually used as a place of resort by members of a class of people ... whom may reasonably be suspected to be involved in organised crime".
A controversial section of the act allows police to support their case by submitting secret evidence to a judge that the defendants or their lawyers are not allowed to see.
Yesterday, Supreme Court judge Peter Blaxall said the state's highest court - the court of appeal - must decide whether that section of the law was unconstitutional.
Lawyer for the Gypsy Jokers, David Grace QC, and lawyer for the police, George Tannin SC, agreed.
Justice Blaxall has previously expressed concern that the bikies' lawyers would be forced to argue for their clients without knowing the case against them, and he said this offended the principles of the justice system.