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Rebels bikie enforcer John Donnelly pleads guilty to $1.5 million re-birthing racket

A REBELS bikie enforcer has pleaded guilty to 136 charges for running a $1.5 million-dollar vehicle rebirthing racket.

Drysdale man John Donnelly faced Geelong Magistrates’ Court on Friday over the scheme in which more than 40 stolen vehicles were rebadged and fraudulently registered, often at VicRoads.

The vehicles recovered — including cars, boats, trailers, motorised personal flying machines, farm equipment including a hay baler and caravans — had a combined value of more than $1.5 million.

A spa bath was also among the stolen property.

Many of the items previously detailed in court were stolen from homes on the Bellarine Peninsula.

The 34-year-old was arrested in February last year and initially faced more than 200 charges, but these were whittled down on a plea deal which involved Donnelly’s wife escaping prosecution.

On Friday, 13 theft charges were thrown out and replaced with multiple counts of handling stolen goods and a single charge of dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Police have previously identified Donnelly in court as a sergeant at arms of Geelong’s Rebels bikie gang, but emphasised early in the investigation that the Rebels were unaware of the rebirthing scheme.

Donnelly’s former mistress Laura Fenton, 25, pleaded guilty in November to 17 charges — including thefts and deceptions — for her role in the racket.

Prosecutor Campbell Thomson told Friday’s committal hearing Fenton’s bid to be sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court was rejected earlier this week.

The seriousness of her charges mean she will instead learn her fate in the County Court on June 6.

Another alleged accomplice, Steven Scott, 36, is contesting about 50 charges including handling stolen goods and making false document.

Police allege Mr Scott fronted VicRoads multiple times to process false vehicle registrations as part of the scheme.

He will now face a County Court trial and will next appear in court on February 6.

In separate charges against Donnelly, it is alleged the father was behind the wheel of a stolen white Mercedes during a police pursuit in September 2016.

The car was abandoned in Southbank with drugs and a weapon inside after it sped from police on the West Gate Freeway in Melbourne.

Donnelly is continuing to challenge the 13 charges, which include trafficking methylamphetamine, reckless conduct endangering life and stealing the car.

Two officers from Altona North Police Station gave evidence in court on Friday they stopped and searched Donnelly near where the car was dumped, but found nothing to link him to the theft.

The court heard two other men were found with a key to the car 10 days later when police arrested them acting suspiciously at a car yard.

Police allege one of those men is an associate of Donnelly, while the other is connected to an outlaw motorcycle gang.

Donnelly remains in custody and will next appear in court on January 29, however he is unlikely to be sentenced until April.

A date for the trial of the contested charges will be set on Monday.