Chief magistrate: Alleged Rebels stupid or thumbing noses
FIVE alleged Sunshine Coast Rebels caught on CCTV having a beer together at the Yandina Hotel must have been living under a rock not to know it was illegal to associate with each other, Queensland's chief magistrate has said.
"It seems to me it's really stupid or it's thumbing its nose at clear prohibitions," Tim Carmody said.
Steven Michael Smith, 28, his brother Scott Michael Conly, 36, their brother-in-law Joshua Shane Carew, 30, long-time friend Dan Whale, 26, and Paul Jeffery Lansdowne, 57, all applied for bail in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday and will learn their fate Thursday morning.
The court heard the Yandina Hotel was "known" to police as a venue where Rebels associated with each other.
New Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment laws prohibit members of criminal gangs from associating in groups of three or more in public places.
If the charge is proven, each man faces a mandatory six months in jail.
Mr Carmody said the new laws were intended to break up criminal organisations.
"... To make Queensland a hostile environment for participating in criminal organisations ... every time you pop your head up you're going to attract the risk of mandatory minimum term of imprisonment," he said.
"Eventually if that happens to you often enough you'll change your friendship group."
Lawyer Robert Butler said Mr Carew was not a Rebels member but was simply related to alleged bikies, which made it a tenuous stretch to call him a gang participant.
He said his client was not at the hotel to have a beer but rather was working in Nambour for most of the day.
"He's delivering a pizza, which could not be more innocent," he said.
Barrister James Godbolt did not provide any information disputing Mr Lansdowne was a Rebels member.
He suggested a separate trafficking case against his client was weak.
Lawyer David Stevenson - representing Smith, Conly and Whale - pointed to recent drastically reduced jail sentences handed down for three Sunshine Coast bikies found in contempt after refusing to swear an oath to answer questions at Crime and Misconduct Commission hearings.
In those cases, Justice Peter Applegarth said one day in the new bikie-only section at the Woodford Correctional Centre would be equivalent to one week in a normal prison environment.
He found 22 hours a day in solitary confinement was too harsh and would cause psychological harm that could make the men more of a danger to the community on release.
Mr Stevenson said that was where his clients would be placed and argued their detention could not be justified in those circumstances.
He said Mr Whale, who would miss his newborn's first Christmas, was already suffering sleep and other mental health issues while in prison.
Mr Stevenson said it beggared belief that any law would prohibit family members from having a drink together at this time of year.
Mr Carmody will hand down his decisions on Thursday morning.