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Sunday, 24 July 2011

NOTORIOUS Perth bikie Troy Mercanti will be offered police protection from the moment he steps out of prison, amid police claims he is a "dead man walking".

16:31 |

Police say Mercanti, who is due for release from Casuarina Prison on August 2, is a target in the feud between his club, the Finks, and former gang the Coffin Cheaters.

Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime Nick Anticich would only confirm that police considered the bikie a "potential victim" and would "monitor" him, but The Sunday Times has learnt he will also be offered police protection.

"Some believe he is a dead man walking," a police insider told The Sunday Times.

"Not only is he at loggerheads with the Coffin Cheaters, but the problem has got worse since he's been in jail. He's upset the Finks because they've essentially lost their clubhouse.

"How do you square the ledger? It's all about tit-for-tat retaliation."

Another source said there was a good chance Mercanti would move interstate, possibly to South Australia or Queensland, where there is a greater presence of Finks bikies.

Mercanti has been serving a 28-month jail sentence after he was found guilty of assault causing grievous bodily harm to Gregory Fistonich, by throwing a punch that broke the victim's jaw at Geisha Bar in Northbridge in May 2007.

But his sentence was extended after he refused to answer questions from an Australian Crime Commission examiner as part of a police investigation into the theft of thousands of dollars from trust accounts for the daughters of murdered Coffin Cheater Mark Chabriere and his associate Richard Vickers.

Tensions between the Coffin Cheaters and the Finks have been running high since 2008 when Mercanti was bashed and expelled from the Cheaters before he turned to the Finks.

Since then, fears have mounted that the simmering bikie war could erupt into a full-scale showdown.

In October 2008, the war flared when a sniper shot Finks member Stephen Wallace in the shoulder as he rode along Great Eastern Highway, Wooroloo.

Police believe the shooting was a bid to harm Mercanti who was riding in the group.

And last year, Coffin Cheaters and Finks bikies clashed at the Kwinana Motorplex, leaving Wallace with three severed fingers and another Fink, David Marrapodi, shot in the leg.

Mr Anticich said police would speak to Mercanti on his release but he would not comment on any measures or protection that would be offered.

"There is obviously a history of conflict between him and various members and to date that is unresolved," Mr Anticich said. "We are aware of his release and obviously our concern is both with him being a potential victim and a perpetrator. We are trying to monitor it as best we can."

Police would continue to relentlessly track outlaw motorcycle gangs and established criminal networks.

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