Bikies a threat to witnesses: Police

MORE arrests are likely over last week's police raids on alleged bikie gang houses at Lismore, Bungawalbin and Sydney, Lismore Court was told yesterday. And police fear the alleged senior gang members they charged after last week's raids, if released on bail, will frighten potential witnesses out of giving evidence against them. Lismore Magistrate Nick Reimer yesterday rejected bail applications from Philip Bruce Wheatley, 47, of Lismore, and Richard Harold Monkton, 46, of Bungawalbin, after hearing impassioned speeches from prosecutor Don Sanderson and defence lawyer Ralph James. Members of the Lone Wolf bikie gang used a complex series of code words when talking about drugs that sounded like 'gobbledegook' if you did not know what the words referred to, the court heard. In one instance, Monkton was alleged to have been discussing deals of a run of blue ecstasy tablets when he discussed buying 'blue marbles' for about $12.50 which Mr Sanderson said was the drug's wholesale price. However, Mr James told the court his client was a marble enthusiast who had collected tens of thousands of marbles. "What was found (when police raided Monkton's Bungawalbin farm) was 90,000 marbles. This man is a marble collector by hobby; he's been collecting them since age eight," Mr James said. "He's done deals with people in Sydney, New Zealand, the US and Britain on marbles. On his computer there will be evidence he has Internet contact with marble dealers across the world." As for Wheatley, Mr James said he suffered carpal tunnel syndrome so badly he could not open a carton of milk. He certainly could not fire the loaded .357 magnum pistol found at the Lone Wolves clubhouse or bash someone. Mr Sanderson said that disability had not stopped Wheatley driving from the Gold Coast to Clunes to Lismore on the day police raided his home. Wheatley's own words in the weeks before his arrest, picked up by police phone taps, also disagreed. In one recording Wheatley had said he would 'flog' another man. In another he said: "I'm that paranoid I'm standing out the front with a loaded .357 magnum." Mr James told the court neither of the men had big criminal records and Wheatley's last violence conviction had been recorded in 1991. Wheatley had been acquitted on other, more recent charges, and the DPP had dropped a 2002 charge of injuring with intent to murder, under which he was accused of shooting another man. The DPP had been ready to prosecute, Mr Sanderson said, and had found a shell in Wheatley's vehicle matching the gun used to shoot the man. However, the victim had unexpectedly pulled out at the last minute, implying he was frightened out of testifying. Both men were remanded in custody to appear again on September 18.



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