Bikie club can keep fridges

TWEED members of the Finks Outlaw Motor Cycle group can still down their soft drinks icy cold after a Lismore District Court judge refused a Crown application that the Chinderah club forfeit two bar fridges after it was found to be operating an illegal bar.

It follows a partly successful conviction appeal by former Finks sergeant-at-arms Samuel Ross Really, 52, against being found guilty by a Tweed Heads Local Court magistrate of allowing the illegal operation of the bar at its heavily fortified Morton Street clubhouse in August 2007.

Really, a labourer from Bilambil, had been fined a total of $4000 earlier this year after being convicted of two charges - suffer unauthorised sale/supply of liquor and using premises for selling liquor when unlicensed.

During the appeal hearing this week before Judge Roy Ellis, defence barrister Peter O'Connor argued that despite his then position with the club, Really was not the person responsible for authorising the sale of liquor.

Judge Ellis confirmed the conviction against Really in the charge of suffer the unauthorised sale of liquor, but upheld his appeal in the charge of using premises for the sale of liquor and quashed the conviction and a $2000 fine. He also reduced the other fine imposed by the magistrate to $1200.

He confirmed the forfeiture of alcohol seized at the clubhouse, but refused the Crown's application for the forfeiture of the two fridges.

Judge Ellis found that Really in holding the position of sergeant-at-arms was effectively the Finks 'president' at Chinderah.

Evidence before the court was that $16,000 worth of illegal liquor sales had taken place over 12 months at the club's 'Bungs Bar and Grill' 0n the premises.

The charges arose after a police team - including officers from the State Crime Command Gang Squad - and led by Byron Bay officer Detective Sergeant Labeeb Saad forced their way into the clubhouse on August 22, 2007 after being granted a search warrant.

Police facts state the bar was located inside a heavily fortified industrial shed and that behind a large roller door and sliding glass door was 'a large heavy-gauge steel sliding door secured by padlocks'.

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