Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Australia: Case dismissed against accused bikies arrested while buying ice-cream

A HIGH-PROFILE lawyer has rubbished Queensland’s anti-bikie laws, describing them as totally useless and nothing more than a political stunt.

His comments came as a court dismissed the case against five alleged bikies who were arrested under anti-association laws after they bought ice-cream during a Gold Coast holiday in January 2014.

The dismissal in Southport Magistrates Court this morning came as the prosecution revealed it had no evidence against any of the accused.

Bill Potts, who represented two of the five men, said the case cost $500,000 of public money and was the latest example of the laws failing to meet the burden of proof in court.

He added that his clients were guilty of nothing more than arguing over what type of ice-cream they wanted.

“The offence in effect is buying ice-cream in a public place,” Mr Potts said.  “The biggest controversy was whether it should be a choc-top or a vanilla ice-cream.”

Victorian friends Bane Alabejovic, Kresimir Basic, Darren Keith Haley, Dario Halilovic and Daniel Morgan Lovett were all arrested and charged while leaving an ice-cream shop at Surfers Paradise during a holiday with their families.

The five were accused of being bikie gang members and charged under a law introduced by the former Liberal-National Party government to prevent members of a criminal organisation from knowingly gathering in a group of more than two people in a public place.

At the time of their arrests, a woman who claimed to be the partner of one of the men said she was disgusted by what had happened.

“Basically the boys have gone to get the kids ice cream and the police have got them and locked them up,” she told reporters after the men were detained.

“To me I think it’s gross, gross, inhumanity, you wouldn’t even treat dogs like this.”

Mr Potts told the Australian at the time: “The police found no drugs, no guns, no evidence of any criminality.

“Their offence is walking down the street and looking for ice creams. It is now illegal to be friends in a public place looking for an ice cream in Surfers Paradise.”

Queensland’s anti-bikie laws attracted scathing criticism when they were passed in October 2013, with senior barrister Stephen Keim telling a lawyers conference on the Gold Coast last year that the laws breached human rights.

This morning, after the case against the men was dismissed, Mr Potts said he hoped the anti-bikie laws would be abolished when they were reviewed by the current Queensland government.

He added that this was the latest anti-association case to be thrown out without proof.  “Not one prosecution has been able to be sustained,” he said.  “Anti-association laws don’t work ... it prevents nothing and saves nobody.”

All five men spent more than two weeks in custody following their arrests, including time in solitary confinement, before being granted Supreme Court bail.

Mr Potts said his clients were considering their legal options regarding possible civil action.

Original report here

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