Slain bikie’s coffin emblazoned in $100 bills
The huge procession of bikies riding to the funeral of assassinated Rebels boss Nick Martin - whose casket was emblazoned with $100 bills - was tailed by a police marksman hanging out of a helicopter amid fears of an all-out bikie war.
Police attention to such events is usually intense but even more so on Wednesday, given Martin was executed by a suspected sniper from a distance of about 300 metres at Perth Motorplex in Kwinana on December 12.
It took just a single shot to the chest to fell the tall, heavy-set father-of-one.
Over the roar of vehicles competing in the event, his wife Amanda initially thought he had suffered a heart attack, then saw blood.
The surprise attack was witnessed by horrified families - including children.
Somehow, the bullet managed also to wound former Bandido Ricky Chapman, the partner of Martin's stepdaughter Stacey Schoppe, and a five-year-old boy.
The killer is still at large and police have set up a special task force, codenamed Ravello, in a bid to solve the murder.
Amid fears of more violence, WA Police meticulously planned Martin's funeral with the help of his family and dedicated hundreds of officers to keeping the peace.
That included escorting the epic line of riders who roared through North Perth to Purslowe & Chipper Funerals, then down Scarborough Beach Road and along West Coast Highway on the way to Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park.
The patched, leather-clad mourners took one last ride with their chief, surrounded by marked and unmarked police vehicles, while the police shooter flew overhead, keeping a keen eye out for any more attackers.
Curious members of the public stood on the roadside to watch the incredible scene, which brought traffic to a standstill.
Near the front of the procession was Martin's eye-catching casket, secured on a platform attached to a lone rider, with a large confederate flag flying from the back, followed by three long limousines.
When the phalanx of mourners arrived at the tranquil bushland-set cemetery, they sat under a marquee beside a lake.
The service began with Bob Dylan's Hurricane and was hosted by former ABC radio presenter Verity James, who said Martin's life had been "brutally stolen … long before anyone was ready".
"This was underhand and cowardly - he didn't have a chance to defend himself," she said.
She described the 51-year-old as big in presence and character.
"He was unbelievably loyal to those he loved and absolutely would not be told what to do," Ms James said.
She recounted he had been described by others as "the toughest c*** I've ever seen" while his mother said he had been a huge baby.
Martin's daughter Tia, who recently gave birth to his first grandchild, said he had a "slight temper on occasions" but was also a "teddy bear" and her "rock" before sobbing almost uncontrollably.
A long-term friend said of Martin: "That motherf***r could eat.
"He had this annoying habit of always picking food off my plate.
"I'd order a dozen prawns and those big mitts of his would was be across before you know it."
He said Martin was "loyal to a fault".
"His loyalty was extreme and for life. My enemies were his," he said.
"He also had a memory like an elephant."
Former Rebels national president Alex Vella - who is in exile in Malta - read out a poem to Martin via videolink and said "he loved to party and he loved to dine".
"When they told me the bad news, I couldn't believe," he said.
"He was a proud Rebel and brave. Now he is with our Lord in glory.
"Rest in peace, brother."
One if Martin's best friends Karl explained why his nickname was Sarge.
"We had to see a guy who owed some money," he said.
"Nick came bustling out of the guy's front door balancing a brand new large plasma TV, which were quite rare in those days.
"He was trying to fit it into this tiny little car we were driving.
"I (said), 'What are you doing? We've got the money in the bag.'
"He replied, 'Yeah, well this can be his interest,' and the screen cracked while he was wedging it into the back seat."
Tasmanian member Ned, who flew to WA for the expletive-laden event, said Martin told him to suck it up whenever he complained about the state's heat - no doubt suffering in Wednesday's 40C stinker.
"Nick was 110 per cent real," Ned said.
"He was as staunch as they come. What you see is what you see was what you got. There was no bulls***."
Another friend described Martin as "an imposing figure" with "his own sense of justice" and while stubborn, he was caring and thoughtful.
The friend said he had seen many women come and go in Martin's life but it was clear his wife Amanda had been his soulmate.
When she rose to speak briefly, she was clearly overwhelmed by emotion but started with humour.
"He wasn't scared of anyone but me," the widow said.
"(When we met) he had abs but f*** knows what happened to them."
She barely made it to the end as she said how much she loved him.
"There is a hole in my heart that cannot be healed," she said.
There were multiple photo tributes throughout the two hour-plus funeral, set to musical artists including Eminem, Pink Floyd and Adele.
One ended with a video clip of a man trying to serve legal papers from the Australian Taxation Office on Martin but he struts away, telling the man "go f*** yourself".
Tributes came from many chapters including New Zealand, while a wreath next to the coffin bore the ribbon "Condolences from Rebels MC Thailand".
The service was ended with a haka by Mongrol Mob members.
Live aerial vision of the procession on Facebook drew many comments from Martin's admirers including "Rip Nick, true gentleman. Taught me many life lessons".
Another wrote: "RIP NICKO, aka SARGE!! YOUR DREAMS, DRIVE, DEDICATION, PASSION & SKILLS YOUV'E SHARED & TAUGHT MANY AFTER YOU WILL LIVE 4EVA!!!"
While some criticised the huge police operation - which included Tactical Response Group officers - others pointed out it was important to keep the event safe.
Before it emerged a police sniper would be used, WA Police state crime unit assistant commissioner Brad Royce told 6PR radio: "We have a heightened sense of awareness around what else could occur. We have ... a significant number of officers ... and in specified areas to manage that."
Police have offered a reward of up to $1 million - far more than on offer for many of WA's unsolved murders - for information that leads to the conviction of the person responsible for Martin's death and say Crimestoppers has received many calls.
Mr Royce said the task force continued to amass exhibits and witnesses, and execute search warrants.
"We continue to operate en masse wherever bikies are forming up and there has been a number of charges and arrests over the last week," he said.
Martin's widow rejected Attorney-General John Quigley's claim a funeral director had made an application on behalf of the family for taxpayer cash to help fund the event under the state government's homicide funeral assistance scheme.
Originally published as Slain bikie's coffin emblazoned in $100 bills