Chilling truth behind bikie romances

 

WOMEN in relationships with bikies are alarmingly 640 per cent as likely to be a victim of domestic violence, as gang squad police reveal one in three patched bikies has been issued a DV order.

The new research has prompted gang squad police to change their strategy, and family violence co-ordinators within the bikie-busting gang squad are working with investigators and DV support services to get women out of high-risk violent relationships.

Police said the research, which found 35 per cent of current bikies have been issued domestic violence orders, also showed a woman in an OMCG relationship was 428 per cent as likely to be a DV victim involving strangulation.

Organised Crime Gangs Group Superintendent Roger Lowe said the new research from his team was alarming.

Tara Brown was murdered by her ex-partner and Bandidos enforcer Lionel Patea in 2015 and had been subject to domestic violence in the lead up to her death.

A year later Shelsea Schilling was murdered by her ex-boyfriend and former Bandidos bikie enforcer Bronson Ellery who then took his own life.

"Ultimately, we don't want to see another domestic violence death at the hands of a gang member," Supt Lowe told The Courier-Mail.

"We have real concerns there is under-reported domestic family violence as well."

Supt Lowe said gang behaviour spilt over into the home and police wanted to expose myths of gang life.

"It's misogynistic behaviour, it's a brotherhood, it's about bonds," he said.

"And you look at their history, it's not uncommon for these women to be branded property of a member, property of the club.

"The truth isn't what they put on Instagram, it really isn't.
"Violence is going on every day within these gangs, they have sergeant-at-arms for a reason to enforce their own level of violence on their own membership to enforce rules."

Police would not say which gang had the highest rate of DV orders but said the Rebels, who have the largest membership in Queensland, have more members who are respondents than other clubs.

 

Tara Brown was murdered by her bikie ex-partner Lionel Patea. Picture: Instagram
Tara Brown was murdered by her bikie ex-partner Lionel Patea. Picture: Instagram

 

Supt Lowe said four DV co-ordinators in the gang squad reviewed OMCG members and DV every day to determine where to send investigators, other police and support services.

Detective Inspector Larissa Miller said it was a "pressure cooker environment" for women. Detectives in her team were motivated to help vulnerable victims.  

"We know men in the gang environment see using violence as the norm so women and children are more likely to be exposed to and subjected to violence on a daily basis which puts them at great risk," she said.

"It differs (the DV) in respect of they're part of the gang, they're part of a group of men with a joint intention which is violence and criminal activity.

"So women who get into these relationships, not only are they in a relationship with that individual but they are in a relationship with a whole group of people.

"I think that it is harder for women to escape them."

Organised Crime Gangs Group Superintendent Roger Lowe, Inspector Larissa Miller and their team which includes domestic violence co-ordinators. Picture: Liam Kidston
Organised Crime Gangs Group Superintendent Roger Lowe, Inspector Larissa Miller and their team which includes domestic violence co-ordinators. Picture: Liam Kidston

Supt Lowe said his squad could provide an "extra layer of security" for high-risk victims of domestic violence.

He said only 38 per cent of DV gang victims accepted referrals for help from services and police-initiated DV action was about 16 per cent higher than the general population.

Women, he said, "for whatever reason" were attracted to "bad boys" and found it difficult to get out of the relationship.

"Women in violent gang relationships are even more afraid because of the connections that these people have or even professed to have," he said.

Supt Lowe said two bikies had been extradited to Queensland to face court for strangulation and breaching domestic violence orders in the last 12 months.

A national domestic violence policy based on Queensland strategy is being implemented through federal joint law enforcement group Taskforce Morpheus.

The initiative has won a QPS award and was a finalist in the Premier's awards.


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