News & Current Affairs
Bikies and killer unite in prison
The Hells Angels have joined forces with a feared gang run by the killer of underworld kingpin Carl Williams inside Barwon Prison, giving the bikies unprecedented influence inside Victoria's highest-security jail.
Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Cheesman said the bond between the Hells Angels and Prisoners of War demonstrated the reach of the bikie gang.
Prisoners of War, a group led by Matthew Charles Johnson, have aligned with the bikie gang, which police fear will grow stronger through the alliance.
Life on the inside: Barwon Prison.
The power play comes as the Hells Angels are embroiled in a violent feud with two rival gangs that have been weakened by the loss of senior members.
It can be revealed that prominent bikie Toby Mitchell has quit the Bandidos because of ill-health caused by two murder attempts, both of which have been linked to the Hells Angels or their associates.
Police confirmed that Mitchell, who had risen to become the Australasian serjeant-at-arms of the Bandidos, had handed in his club colours. His power base had taken in Bandidos chapters in Australia and south-east Asia.
Prison CCTV footage released after Matthew Johnson's court case shows the convicted killer (left) sneaking up behind Carl Williams (seated) with the stem of an exercise bike before launching his deadly attack.
Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Cheesman, of the Echo taskforce, said the bond between the Hells Angels and Prisoners of War demonstrated the reach of the bikie gang. Johnson founded the feared group of prisoners, which detests those who co-operate with police.
Justice Lex Lasry said during Johnson's sentencing in December 2011 that the prisoner had killed Williams after learning he was helping police investigate the murders of Terence and Christine Hodson.
The revelation comes only a week after concerns about overcrowding in Victoria's prison system reached crisis point and as the Queensland government considers a bikies-only prison.
Matthew Charles Johnson, the leader of Prisoners of War.
Senior Sergeant Cheesman told a firearms appeals committee hearing on Wednesday that the Hells Angels had recently boasted of their ability to secure high-powered weapons.
During police raids to find the guns last month, an Echo detective told a Hells Angels member that if the gang's AK-47 and M1 Carbine were handed in, "the heat would come off".
"The Hells Angel responded, 'Do your job and you'll find them, and if you find them we'll just get more,"' Senior Sergeant Cheesman said. "That's the attitude of the Hells Angels at the moment."
Toby Mitchell has quit the Bandidos because of ill-health caused by two murder attempts.
A Hells Angels member also posed with one of the weapons and handguns on his Facebook page, but the guns were not found when his house was raided. Police had said last month they knew who had the weapons.
The Hells Angels are also engaged in a tit-for-tat with the Comanchero bikie gang in Melbourne's south-east. It was revealed on Wednesday that a heated discussion between a member of the Hells Angels' Darkside chapter in Seaford and the Comancheros' Hallam chapter had sparked the feud, which had led to a series of drive-by shootings, bombings and attempted bombings of businesses and clubhouses.
None of those shootings was as serious as the second attempt on Mitchell's life, which police believe could have been as bad as the Milperra massacre. Seven people, six of them bikies, died in the gunfight between the Comanchero and Bandidos gangs in Sydney's west in 1984.
Senior Sergeant Cheesman said that Mitchell had arrived at the Melton clubhouse of the Diablos on March 1 in one of four cars driven by Bandidos in response to a "run through" by the Hells Angels and associate clubs. It was revealed that during the rampage a Hells Angels member was seen standing in an overcoat brandishing a machinegun and the girlfriends of Diablos members had their details taken by the bikies performing the run-through as a threat to stop them speaking to police.
Video footage shows that when Mitchell's convoy arrived, members of the Hells Angels group ambushed them in cars of their own, ramming into Mitchell's car and spraying them with bullets while other Bandidos fled. Mitchell, 38, was shot in the right arm.
Another Bandido received minor gunshot wounds and a Diablo was bashed in the run through.
In November 2011, Mitchell, a former heavyweight kickboxer, nearly died when he was shot five times outside Doherty's Gym in Brunswick.
He was on life support for weeks and lost a kidney and part of his liver but refused to co-operate with police.
It is unclear who will replace Mr Mitchell, who left the club in 'good standing'. Club members who leave in these circumstances are not subject to any recriminations, which can include beatings and having their motorcycles confiscated, as occurs with the Comanchero.
Former state president of the Comanchero Amad 'Jay' Malkoun resigned from his position earlier this year because of an extended business trip in Dubai that he is yet to return from, but he remains a member of the club.
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