Mr Jones sustained injuries that included a broken left cheek and eye socket, stab wounds and cuts to his face, nose and forehead that left permanent scarring and a cracked tooth. His ear was sewn back on.
They could not reach a verdict on a fourth man whose prosecution was later discontinued by the Crown.
Mr Jones had been a member of the Rebels and later the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle clubs but had wanted a change of lifestyle.
In November 2008, he phoned Tangaloa, who was upset to hear of his plans to quit the group.
Mr Jones rejected the suggestion from Destanovic’s barrister Wayne Toohey he was a “cunning liar” and that his client was not present.
Destanovic, a father of five and a painter and decorator who has criminal convictions that include assault, seemed, said Mr Toohey, “like a normal, run of the mill fellow”.
Vaotangi was jailed for seven-and-a-half years with a minimum of four-and-a-half years, less 258 days pre sentence detention.
Stephen Jones simply didn’t want to be an outlaw motorcycle gang member any more.
He’d been with the Rebels and later the Bandidos but got ”fed up” with the lifestyle and wanted to go straight.
Mr Jones, 47, aimed to spend time with his young daughter, run a family business and be ”happy to have a few friends who had Harleys and go for a ride”.
Although adamant there was no ”bad blood” on quitting the Bandidos, he knew the bond was over. But he never imagined that the parting would unleash hell.
January 15, 2009, had been hot, and as evening simmered towards sunset, life in Earlybird Way, Epping, appeared normal and neighbourly.
Mr Jones had woken from a nap and was on the phone to a friend about 6.30pm to arrange a ride when the doorbell rang.
He peered out and saw former clubmates Jack Vaotangi and Jasmin Destanovic at the front door, which had been bashed in.
Mr Jones, wearing only underpants, cowered in his en suite and dialled 000, but before he could push the ”send” button they, now with Taniora Tangaloa, had him.
A handgun was shoved in his mouth and the trigger pulled, his ear was sliced with a knife, and he was stabbed, cut and bashed before being viciously kicked in the face. A guitar was smashed over his head.
And in a final indignity, especially for a biker, the men rode off on his prized possessions – two Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They also stole his car, a laptop, telescope and other items, the plunder valued at more than $100,000.
A Melbourne County Court jury found Tangaloa, 38, Vaotangi, 35, and Destanovic, 36, guilty of armed robbery, aggravated burglary and intentionally causing serious injury, but could not reach a verdict on a fourth man whose prosecution was later discontinued by the Crown.
After numerous delayed trials, the jury, by their verdicts, didn’t accept the men’s defence that they simply weren’t at the house.
Mr Jones listed injuries in his victim impact statement that included a broken left cheek and eye socket, stab wounds and cuts to his face, nose and forehead that left permanent scarring and a cracked tooth. His ear was sewn back on.
The emotional trauma from that ”night of terror”, he wrote, caused extreme anxiety, recurring nightmares and ” living in fear for the rest of my life”.
Why was he subjected to such vicious treatment?
Rather than retribution for leaving the club, Judge Bill Stuart regarded the men’s motivation as an apparent ”desire … to steal whatever they could”.
Judge Stuart also said the ”extreme beating” was to ”terrify him such that he will not report the thefts from his home”.
Prosecutor Alex Albert agreed, submitting that the viciousness and ”mental torture” seemed unnecessary, and that all three – despite Tangaloa wielding the gun, articulating threats and smashing the guitar and Vaotangi slitting the ear – supported, assisted and encouraged the other with little distinction in their culpability.
Mr Jones told the jury he met Tangaloa at the Rebels in 2001, with Vaotangi and Destanovic, and later he was invited to the Bandidos where they resumed a friendship, but there was ”bad blood” when some left that club.
In November 2008, he phoned Tangaloa, who was upset to hear him say ”I don’t want to be part of your group any more” because ”they like to keep the hard-core group together”.
”These blokes used to hug me and kiss me and say, ‘We love, brother,”’ he said.
The last words Tangaloa offered, Mr Jones recalled, were ”just keep in touch, take it easy”.
The next ones he heard from Tangaloa were on January 15 while he was on his knees – with Vaotangi and Destanovic holding his shoulders – after he had put a gun to his mouth: ”I want all the keys to your Harley-Davidsons, all the money you’ve got in the house, and today you’re gunna die.”
After the beating, Mr Jones remembered saying to himself, ”You’re still alive, you’re still alive” then the sound of his Harleys ”start up and go”.
He agreed with Michael Sharpley, for Tangaloa, that he first refused to identify his attackers, but later did.
”I had enough, I was fed up,” he said. ”I was in a bike club, I had nothing to do with bike clubs any more.
”Being in the bike clubs they grind into you that you’re not allowed to talk to police, you’re not allowed to identify anyone if you ever spoke to police. Joe [Tangaloa] would put the fear of God into me, saying he was gunna kill me if we spoke to the police.”
Mr Jones rejected the suggestion from Destanovic’s barrister Wayne Toohey he was a ”cunning liar” and that his client was not present.
He also denied he feared outside his door the husband of a Tony Mokbel associate whose wife he’d earlier had an affair with, or that Bandidos were responsible.
In pleas for mitigation that ended this week, Tangaloa, a ”pallet technician” and father of 11 from three relationships, who has no prior convictions, was described by supporters as a generous family man, charitable, and one who ”gives of himself to his friends”.
Destanovic, a father of five and a painter and decorator who has criminal convictions that include assault, seemed, said Mr Toohey, ”like a normal, run of the mill fellow” who had ”no great problem with the world”.
Barrister James McQuillan said Vaotangi, a married father of three, had convictions for violence, but was ”essentially a family man” from a good Christian family who at the time of the incident was ”out of control” on ice when associating with the ”wrong crowd”.
Now drug free, employed and back with his family, Vaotangi, said Mr McQuillan, ”wants to rectify his past”.
Judge Stuart, who will sentence the men next month, has acknowledged that the delay in finalising the charges was a significant factor.
By their colours: Outlaw motorcycle gang identification guide
According to the Australian Crime Commission, outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs) are among the most identifiable components of Australia’s criminal landscape.
The ACC says OCMGs are active in all states and territories and lists 44 as being of interest, with a total of 179 chapters and 4,483 members.
The Rebels gang boasts by far the biggest membership, at 25 per cent of the total, while the Bandidos have 7 per cent, the Outlaws and Hells Angels 6 per cent, Lone Wolf 5 per cent and Comancheros 5 per cent.
There has been a 48 per cent increase of OMCG chapters since 2007, according to the ACC.
The joint National Attero Task Force was set up in 2012 to target the Rebels, considered one of Australia’s highest risk criminal threats, and claimed success by recovering $1.7 million owed to the Australian Taxation Office.
The authorities also laid 1,200 charges for such offences ranging from serious assault and kidnapping, to firearms, weapons, drugs, property and traffic offences.
Along with firearms, they recovered Tasers, machetes, knuckle dusters, throwing stars and illegal knives and batons.
Among the OMCGs of interest to Australian authorities, many have links with notorious overseas gangs.
The Rebels are the only major home-grown gang and were formed in Brisbane several decades ago. They boast the country’s biggest membership and have been tied to various execution-style killings over the past decade, including the murder of three members of rival club the Bandidos.
The ongoing war has seen the clubhouse of the Rebels’ “mother” chapter in the inner-Brisbane suburb of Albion torched and shot at.
The Rebels have added suspected counterfeiting activities, tax evasion and trafficking stolen goods to their known involvement in drug manufacture and supply.
The Australian offshoot of the group formed in San Leon, Texas, claims to have formed in August 1983 when ex-members of the Comanchero club met and were “greatly impressed” by members of the American gang.
They were so impressed they split with Comanchero, causing an ongoing rift that culminated in the 1984 “Milperra Massacre” south-west of Sydney that left seven dead and 28 injured.
The Bandidos have been targeted by US law enforcement as one of the “big four” gangs involved in the drug trade, as well as arms dealing, money laundering, murder and extortion.
The US justice department regards them as a “growing criminal threat” to the country.
The Hells Angels originated in California in the US and are easily the most notorious of the “1 per cent” bikie clubs – the ones that give 99 per cent of motorcyclists a bad name.
The gang operates in as many as 27 countries and poses a criminal threat on six continents, according to the US Department of Justice.
The club’s criminal activities are known to include drug production, transportation and distribution, as well as extortion, murder, money laundering and motorcycle theft.
Membership in the US is limited to white males who cannot be into child molestation, and the club’s website boasts that each of its members rides, on average, 20,000 miles a year.
In Australia, the club says it has 10 active chapters in all states except WA and Tasmania and also in the Northern Territory. Recent reports suggest that the Angels are trying to widen their footholds in the drug trade, bringing them in direct conflict with rivals such as the Comancheros.
Formed in California in the 1970s, the Mongols Motorcycle Club is inspired (in name) by the empire of Genghis Khan and is believed to have about 70 chapters nationwide.
Many US members are former members of Los Angeles-area street gangs, leading the powerful US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to consider it the “most violent and dangerous” bikie gang operating there.
The Mongols, sworn enemies of the Hells Angels, boast of having chapters in the US, Mexico, Germany, Norway, France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Thailand and now Australia. Recent reports in the Fairfax media indicate the club has been scoping out territory for the club in Sydney and on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
A patched member from the Mongols’ France-based chapter had moved to the Gold Coast and aligned himself with the Finks, Fairfax reported last week, in an expansion bid.
The Finks arguably made their name in Australia after the “Ballroom Blitz”, a gang fight with Hells Angels members at a Gold Coast kickboxing tournament in 2006 featuring guns, knives, knuckledusters and chairs.
According to recent reports, the Finks are planning to patch over their whole group to the international powerhouse Mongols in a bid to become the most-feared outlaw club in Australia and circumvent moves by authorities to have the club declared a criminal organisation under controversial anti-association laws.
The news comes in the wake of three public bikie brawls on the Gold Coast.
It is believed to also have prompted the Federal Government to send a new federal anti-gang squad to Queensland’s Gold Coast to help the State Government in its crackdown on bikie gangs.
The patchover would involve the Finks swapping club support gear with Mongols “colours” and removing Finks club tattoos.
Thought to have instigated the Milperra massacre, the Comancheros are seen as encouraging a growing trend among bikie gangs to allow non-bikies to join.
The Daily Telegraph reported in August that the self-proclaimed national leader of the gang, Mark Buddle, had neither a motorcycle licence nor a bike.
“Show a modern Comanchero a motorbike and he wouldn’t know how to ride it,” former detective Duncan McNab told the paper.
“They are criminal gangs who sometimes get on a bike.” The phenomenon has even spawned the phrase “Nike bikie”, the paper wrote, as other bikie gangs look to recruit members to beef up their criminal activities.
The Victorian police earlier this month charged five members of the Comancheros over a recent spate of shootings in Melbourne’s south-east.
All but one of the Comancheros were accused of running a debt-collecting syndicate which allegedly uses violent standover tactics to get money from victims.
Other prominent OMCGs
- Gypsy Jokers
- Black Uhlans
- Rock Machine
- Odin’s Warriors
- Tramps (Wangaratta)
- Satan’s Soldiers
- Diablos (Bandidos)
- Red Devils
- Coffin Cheaters
- Satan’s Riders
- Devil’s Henchmen