Gang bid to have charges dropped

Last updated 13:00 21/06/2012

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Lawyers representing the Nelson-based Red Devils Motorcycle Club members have applied to the High Court to have the case against the gang thrown out, arguing police acted illegally to gain evidence.

The application to have the case dismissed will be heard in the High Court in Nelson next month.

Red Devils' gang members were arrested in a series of raids in the Nelson region in March last year, and face a range of charges including drugs and firearm offences.

Thirteen were charged with being a member of an unlawful criminal group.

Police used electronic surveillance to gain evidence and an undercover cop to infiltrate the gang in Operation Explorer, which focused on the gang which police say is a feeder gang for the Hells Angels.

The High Court bid to stop the case proceeding was raised by a lawyer yesterday during a defended hearing for those found at the Red Devils headquarters in Nelson in August 2010.

A police raid on the Natalie St house followed a cage-fighting event at the Trafalgar Centre.

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber told the Nelson District Court that police found 50 people at the property where there was a bar with two fridges with a large quantity of beer at the headquarters.

Bottles of spirits and glassware were also found. A till was found in the bar and the cash drawer was found in a bedroom. A cash tin was also recovered.

Twenty eight people face charges of being found on an unlicensed premises under the Sale of Liquor Act.

At yesterday's hearing eight Red Devils members and affiliates who faced the more serious charges relating to the running and management of the bar, had their case deferred after legal argument.

Lawyer Steven Rollo argued evidence gained about the bar as part of Operation Explorer was not admissible because of the High Court application due to be heard on July 9.

Mr Rollo, who is representing a number of the defendants, said the High Court application was based on the admissibility of evidence and what he described as the illegal conduct of police.

Lawyers recently condemned police actions for a false prosecution of the undercover agent involved in infiltrating the Nelson gang, saying it was an abuse of the court system.

Police have defended the prosecution of the agent because of the dangerous nature of undercover work.

Yesterday's hearing was delayed by legal argument after Mr Rollo asked for the sale of liquor charges to be dismissed on the basis that the search of the headquarters was unreasonable. A decision on that issue is expected today.

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The charges under the Sale of Liquor Act are a fine only offence and 12 people who have already admitted the charge have been fined $200 each.

Those who had the more serious charges of running the bar deferred are: Roger Paul Patrick, 51, Mark James Lee, 58, Terry Jones, 43, Damien John Stacey, 35, Thomas Joseph Bashford, 53, Colin Chinnock, 53, Russell Phillip Lloyd, of Seddonville, and Joseph Mark Pahl, 55.

Those defending charges of being at the bar are: Grant Roy Heyward, Anna Heloise Horgan, Gregory Jon Page, Rene Frances Parata Salter, Hayley Joanne Kirkwood, Monique Elizabeth Gifford, Mark Henry Allport, Desmond Robert Black, David Paul Kenneth Brunning, Clyde Anthony Cowley, Douglas Arthur Jay, Donovan Bruce Wood, Phillip Ernest Schubert, Peter Richard Tasker, Peter Jon O'Connor, Odile Maria Gibbs, Robert Gerald Meredith, Glyn Patrick Rutledge, Allison Louise Stevenson, Christopher Ian Schaab, Alan Peter Begg, Nathan Waka Paul Hemana, Dwayne Riley, Geoffrey Brittain, and Matthew Donaldson.

- The Nelson Mail

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