In August last year,"full patched" member of the Bandidos the sergeant-at-arms, the club's enforcer, for the Cairns chapter testified against his "mates".
and another Bandido, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to their role in the arson and received five years' jail, wholly suspended.
Last week, Brisbane District Court Judge Gilbert Trafford-Walker sentenced Whittaker, 33, and Thomsen to five years' jail, to be suspended after they have served 20 months, for the "more significant part they played".
He then handed Glavas, 47, a four-year sentence for his role in planning and providing tools, to be suspended after serving 16 months.
John Debilla, the getaway driver who was not a gang member, was jailed for three years, to be suspended immediately.AKA Steve remains in hiding and knows he can never return to Queensland."Almost every day I wake up and check my car for bombs. I change cars a lot and never stick to routine."The day they attack me is the day I will go to jail for the rest of my life . . . if I don't die."Steve formally joined the Bandidos in 2004 after being involved with bikie gangs for 14 years."I joined because I liked the men and the whole brotherhood thing, the loyalty and respect," said Steve, who had met several members while earning a living as a drug dealer on the Sunshine Coast.His criminal connections and past dealings with the club ensured a rapid rise through the ranks.Within 12 months, Steve was made a "full patched" member of the Bandidos and was the sergeant-at-arms, the club's enforcer, for the Cairns chapter."It's a lifestyle. It takes your whole life and your life completely changes. Your family becomes a Bandido . . . the club comes first and all your brothers come first," he said.
"We were a law unto ourselves. There is no feeling in the world of riding in the front of a pack of 500 men . . . you feel unstoppable."
Steve embarked on hedonistic binges on drugs and alcohol that could last for weeks.
"I didn't really use drugs before joining the club, then I was popping 20 pills and snorting lines of coke," he said.
Senior Bandidos had dubbed Steve "the future of Queensland" because of his diehard loyalty to the club's needs.
"I would do anything for the club. I have done s--- that I will never talk about and I have paid with my life a hundred times."The Bandidos are one of 12 outlaw bikie gangs that now have chapters in Queensland, boasting more than 700 members, according to police estimates. The stakes are high for these gangs. Financial rewards are dependent on the protection and expansion of criminal enterprise.Territories, often designated by the presence of a clubhouse and member-owned businesses, ensure ongoing profitability.Steve said crime and the outlaw bikie gang culture of "one-percenters", those bikies who declare themselves the 1 per cent of society who defy the law, go hand-in-hand.
"While you've got an outlaw culture, you've got crime . . . even if you have never done a crime before in your life, you soon will," he said.
The gangs are involved in criminal activities ranging from drug distribution to extortion and contract killings.It is a culture whose members' propensity for violence to resolve conflict has played out nationwide in shootouts, murder, bashings and firebombings.
Chapters each have members with "underground connections" but most will set up their criminal enterprises at a distance so as not to bring "heat" on the club.
The Bandidos also have a strict code of conduct – mandatory attendance at the clubhouse every Friday night, never leaving before the president, and strict dress code.Members are expected to pay a monthly fee to help with maintenance, rent and other members experiencing financial difficulty."I was pretty wealthy when I came into the club and I left broke, owing money to other members; at one stage, I was in debt $50,000."As sergeant-at-arms, meting out brutal beatings to fellow members and externally to anyone who stood in their way became a frequent "duty" for Steve.He was convicted of assault and grievous bodily harm in Cairns after a brawl with police when they tried to question the group over a bashing at a local hotel.
He would not detail the penalties for members if they broke club rules, saying only that punishment varied from fines to demotion within the club and being assaulted.
About two years ago, gang life turned treacherous at Steve's Brisbane chapter as a national war between the Bandidos and Rebels erupted.The bloody feud between the country's two largest gangs was sparked by the defection to the Bandidos of several senior interstate members of the Rebels."The law within the clubs is that to defect to another club you have to have left your club for two years in good standing. There has to be a cooling-off period of two years," Steve said.
Defection between clubs was taken seriously as gangs fear members will betray secrets, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
The battle reached a point where once-sacred areas such as members' homes and businesses were no longer no-go areas."You see a Rebel in a shopping centre, it's your job as a Bandido to take him out, no matter what, otherwise you'll be thrown out of the club," Steve said.
"The war between the Bandidos and Rebels has been going for two years. The last one went for seven and I don't ever see this one ending."An attack on a Sunshine Coast Rebel in 2006 by Bandidos sparked a series of violent clashes and broke an already uneasy truce between the Queensland-based gangs, which had decided to keep clear of the national war. The Rebel was run off the road and bashed, suffering serious spinal injuries. He told police he had been in a traffic accident.In February last year, in an alleged revenge attack, members of the Rebels drove into a group of Bandidos riding in formation at Ningi near Bribie Island.The Rebels, who have been charged over the incident, allegedly bashed Bandidos with baseball bats and axe handles.
"I had taken some leave at the time, because I needed a break," Steve said. "The loyalty and respect had gone in our chapter. Before you could trust a brother with your life, but that was gone. (But) I was getting calls that brothers were getting hurt and I had to go back.
"After this happened (Ningi), there was a lot of talk about revenge on the Rebels."
It was this event which lead to Steve's downfall.
In what many would believe to be a suicide mission, Steve and three fellow gang members torched the Rebels' "mother" clubhouse at Albion on Brisbane's northside.
Steve said he was forced to take part in the revenge arson attack or he would have been "beaten to a pulp". Had he refused to take part, his club would have ejected him on "bad standings", leaving him open to attack from every member of the Bandidos.
He said they would have attacked him on sight and removed his club tattoos with an angle-grinder or oxy-torch.
"If I had been thrown out, they also would have called the Rebels and said I had been kicked out of the club because I had done the arson.
"I had nowhere to go," he said.
Steve later told police that discussions about the revenge attack had been held between himself, club vice-president Ivan Glavas, sergeant-at-arms Kenneth James Whittaker and the then past-president Blair Raymond Thomsen.
He said an initial attempt on the Rebels' Albion clubhouse on March 26 last year failed, but Thomsen ordered Steve to leave a business card from the Bandidos' Sunshine Coast chapter in the door.
"The reason I think he wanted to do the (Albion) clubhouse is because there is more history, more memorabilia, it's the mother chapter of the Rebels," Steve said.
The following day, the four men again entered the property.
Whittaker climbed on the roof and was passed four jerry cans containing 40 litres of petrol that he poured through a hole he made using a crowbar. He then tossed a lit match into the building and leapt to safety as the clubhouse exploded.
In the days following the arson, Steve said, he had armed confrontations with members of the Rebels, after they twice attacked him on the Sunshine Coast.
In the first attack at his Yandina rental property, he woke in the early hours of the morning to hear people on his roof.
"I put my family in the bathroom and I ran out with a shotgun and handgun just firing shots . . . I saw them and knew who it was."
No one was harmed in the incident which Steve never reported to police.
The second attack was outside a paint shop at Nambour when he and another member were allegedly confronted by three armed men.
He said the men knew he was there after being tipped off by a mutual associate who kept them updated about Steve's movements.
"They (allegedly) fired shots into my car, they missed me but shot a chunk of my hair off as I dived into the air . . . I was unarmed at the time. But if I had been, someone would have died," he said.
The following morning, Steve confronted one of the men at gunpoint over the incident saying his family could have been in the car when they attacked. He refused to talk to police.
"The cops came and we had to flick our guns . . . it was serious s---."
Steve said he asked for help from his club, but received none.
"We wore no balaclavas, no gloves, and I read in the news police had tape of the arson. I felt like my brothers had abandoned me and I didn't want to lose my family.
"I was left with no choice but being the fall guy."
At the same time the Queensland police bikie Taskforce Hydra was closing in on the Bandidos and raided Steve's Sunshine Coast home, which was in Rebel territory.
Frightened for the safety of his family and feeling like he had nowhere to go, Steve did the "unthinkable" and turned to the police task force for help.
"It nearly killed me doing it, turning on the club."
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