Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bouncers 'knew bikies' involved in Cottesloe pub death

Police are investigating whether bouncers at a Perth beachside pub allowed outlaw motorcycle gang members access despite management wishing to bar them, hours before a 29-year-old man was allegedly thrown through the pub's second storey window.

A 25-year-old man and associate of the motorcycle gang Rock Machine was charged overnight over the death of the older man, who crashed through the Ocean Beach Hotel's glass pane and plummeted seven metres to the pavement below.

Pub revellers tried helping the injured man, who was found in a pool of blood and broken glass and had suffered serious head and spinal wounds from the fall.

He was treated at the scene before being taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in a critical condition, but died from his injuries in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Police were called to the popular Sunday drinking spot on Marine Parade in Cottesloe about 9pm, and after speaking to witnesses tracked down the man they believed responsible.

Major crime detectives said the Rock Machine associate was in the company of up five members of the bikie gang that night.

Police want to speak to the two women who were seen talking to the victim.
A witness told WAtoday.com.au that the bouncers were "friendly" with the gang members and had allowed them into the hotel once before. Management have refused to comment but they were reportedly concerned by the bikies presence in the pub.

Acting Detective Superintendent David Bryson confirmed he had heard such reports and it was "something that we would have to look into".

He alleged the victim was "casually chatting" with two women shortly before an argument erupted between the gang and the man.

A different witness has claimed the man was punched before being thrown at the window.  However Detective Bryson said police were still reviewing CCTV footage and were still trying to determine if more bikie gang members were involved.

"This is a case of a young man on a Sunday night out with his friends having a beer and simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Detective Bryson said.

"This young man did not provoke anyone, this is what we will allege, and he was simply grabbed and thrown through a level two plate glass window, the drop from that window was approximately seven metres."

One witness named "Craig" told radio 6PR he was at the Ocean Beach Hotel but left 10 minutes before the fatal window-push because he had a "gut-feeling" that it was a "good time to leave".

He said a group of about seven people aged in their mid-20s to mid-30s were dancing and having a good time on the pub's second floor when a second group of people entered.

"... when a particular group walked in  I didn't feel comfortable up there, so we left," he said.

"They were big people, they were very solid, a group of three blokes and a couple of females. They seemed very, very agitated."

Detective Superintendent Charlie Carver, of organised and serious crime, said it was concerning that innocent members of the public can become embroiled in fights with gang members at bars and hotels, since gangs "resort straight up with violence".

"The Liquor Act does give (licencees) the power to bar them... but the Rock Machine don't have a patch per say, they have a patch when they feel like it, they bring it out but they don't actually wear the patch every day of week," he said.

"They work on a series of rings and knowledge of their own membership, so that's generally how they work, so to identify them is very difficult.

"But again I can say the licensing enforcement division is looking at certain aspects in relation to a lot of the liquor outlets and members being let in to drink, etc."

It is the second incident of someone going through a window at the pub, a South Australian man was convicted last week of assaulting a patron by causing him to fall out of the lower storey window.

Matthew Angus Morran, 28, was found guilty of assaulting 53-year old Phillip McElhinney and causing him bodily harm by a Perth Magistrate.

The court heard how the older man was shoved, stumbling over chairs and out the window of the hotel, where he suffered serious injuries in October last year.

Morran was fined $4000 and court costs and granted a spent conviction.

Detective Superintendent Jim Migro, of the licensing enforcement division, told Howard Sattler on radio 6PR he could not comment on Sunday's incident but did defend hotels generally.

"Most of the licensees out and about the state actually do, do a pretty good job. Occasionally there are some who don't," he said.

"One of the biggest issues here, as I said before, is that a lot of the people who go to these pubs really have to start taking some accountability for the way that they behave and start to realise they have to be responsible adults and there's more to getting drunk and getting into fights."

He said current research shows that 75 per cent of all alcohol is through bottle shops.

"If people continue on this way, you could very, very well in the future get back to the total prohibition days and nobody wants that type of thing."


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