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Bikie kingpin Mark Ahern seeks bail on strip club arson charge


Man arrested over Kittens arson attack

Police arrest a man over the Kittens strip club arson attack.

A Comancheros treasurer accused of starting a fire at a Kittens strip club is also suspected of links to other shootings, a court has heard.

Police believe Mark Ahern and another man started a blaze that caused almost $400,000 of damage to the Kittens club in the early hours of February 16, after they pulled a vent from the roof and gained entry through the hole.

The fire also damaged a neighbouring apartment complex and forced the evacuation of eight residents, the court heard.

Mark Ahern is seeking bail over arson charges.

Mark Ahern is seeking bail over arson charges. Photo: Penny Stephens

Mr Ahern, 32, who is charged with two counts of arson and single charges of reckless conduct endangering death, receiving stolen goods and possessing a prohibited weapon, is the treasurer of the Melbourne chapter of the Comancheros motorcycle gang, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Friday.


Detective Senior Constable Ben Shawyer of the anti-bikie Echo Taskforce told the court Mr Ahern had been caught on a CCTV camera in the vicinity of the club and that droplets of his blood were found at the scene.

A burnt-out stolen BMW was found outside a Hallam house that morning, Detective Senior Constable Shawyer said, not far from where an associate of Mr Ahern's lived.

Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South was hit by an arson attack in February.

Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South was hit by an arson attack in February. Photo: Eddie Jim

The BMW's proximity key was found at the scene of the fire, the court heard.

The court heard police believed the Comancheros were responsible for the attack on the Kittens club in Caulfield and also for three drive-by shootings at the Kittens club in South Melbourne, the scene of shootings last November, in January and last month.

Security guards were injured in the first two of those shootings.

The clean up at Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South.

The clean up at Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South. Photo: Eddie Jim

Detective Senior Constable Shawyer said police were investigating Mr Ahern over the alleged extortion and assault of a man whose work tools were found in Mr Ahern's garage and whose utility was involved in one of the shootings at Kittens in South Melbourne.

That man had shots fired at his home while he and his partner were in bed asleep, after he reported the alleged extortion to police, the court heard.

One of Mr Ahern's fingerprints was also found on packaging for ammunition similar to that used in a shooting at a Preston restaurant in October last year, the detective said.

Mr Ahern has been in custody since February and on Friday applied for bail.

Police opposed his bid over concerns he would offend if released and contact prosecution witnesses.

Magistrate Luisa Bazzani reserved her decision until Thursday.

Defence counsel Phillip Dunn, QC, said Ms Bazzani could address police concerns if she imposed a condition Mr Ahern not associate with Comancheros, abide by a curfew, be barred from visiting some suburbs and report to police daily.

Mr Ahern's mother, Lorraine, told the court she would put up one of her family's investment properties as surety, and would monitor her son closely if granted bail.

"He knows he is on death row," she said.

The court heard Mr Ahern would face a delay of at least a year in custody before trial if denied bail.

During cross-examination of the detective, Mr Dunn raised doubts over whether his client could fit through the hole in the Kittens roof, as he was 186 centimetres tall and weighed more than 100 kilograms, and a fire expert had said only someone of modest proportions could fit.

Prosecutor Sharn Coombes described the case against Mr Ahern as a strong one and opposed bail, as Mr Ahern would find it easy to associate with other Comancheros.

The club has 200 members in Victoria, the court heard.

"Clearly the grudge [against Kittens] is a shared one," she said.