Bikies at war over $1m Brisbane clubhouse

 

THE Rebels outlaw bikie gang is embroiled in a bitter $1 million civil war over the future of its notorious club headquarters in Brisbane.

The old Queenslander has been firebombed, sprayed with gunshots by rival gangs, and now some with links to the club want to sell it - while others are fiercely against it.

Former club president John Parker, a motor mechanic from Joyner who ruled the club for 40 years until 2013 when it was designated an outlaw motorcycle club, has claimed in the Supreme Court that he's been bullied to sign over the property to other members.

"On one occasion, six people came onto my property …. one of whom was John Callow in company with five other people," Mr Parker told the Supreme Court in an affidavit. Mr Parker has resisted the pressure to transfer the three-bedroom house, and last year inked a deal to sell the clubhouse, in inner-city Albion, for $1 million to a company owned by Terrie Barakat, wife of millionaire property developer Anthony Barakat, 59, from Hamilton.

There is a battle over the sale of the Rebels clubhouse in Albion.
There is a battle over the sale of the Rebels clubhouse in Albion.

Mr Parker says he will split the proceeds between up to 52 current and former club members, who all put in cash to buy the building for $49,000 in 1985 and renovate it over the years.

Rebels club members John Callow and Michael Kosenko have taken Mr Parker to court in Brisbane on behalf of current club members in a bid to block the sale, saying it was a "shock", that they should have been consulted, and it should remain a clubhouse.

Mr Parker told the court he had spoken to several members and ex-members who "could use the money" and are happy to sell the Frodsham St clubhouse, but he believes they have not told Mr Kosenko how they feel because they "do not want to be intimidated by other certain members".

Michael Kosenko. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Michael Kosenko. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

Mr Parker told the court that if Mr Callow and Mr Kosenko get their way, the clubhouse would only belong to "a select few that are associated with" them, and no money would go to the old-timers.

Mr Callow, a construction company owner from Indooroopilly, and tattoo shop owner Mr Kosenko say Mr Parker has no claim to the building because he resigned from the club in 2013. They argue that all members know that if they leave the club, they cease to have any interest in the property, a claim Mr Parker denies.

The Rebels clubhouse in Albion.
The Rebels clubhouse in Albion.

Mr Callow and Mr Kosenko have asked the court to order Mr Parker to transfer ownership of the clubhouse to a company they set up, whose shareholders include themselves and Rebels members Darren Ross from Boondall, Grant Lingard from Burpengary, John Miller from Joyner and Steven Star of Windsor.

The full list of current and former members of the club is held by the court in a sealed envelope which must not be opened without order of the court, court documents state. Mr Callow and Mr Kosenko argue that Mr Parker only holds the clubhouse "on trust" and must get their permission to sell it.

Former club president John Parker. Picture: Annette Dew
Former club president John Parker. Picture: Annette Dew

Mr Parker argues it is time to sell the clubhouse due to the gentrification of the area and the risk of attacks from rivals.

"This property will never be allowed to be used as a motorcycle clubhouse again. This information was told to me directly by the Police Bikie Squad as they intend to shut down all outlaw motorcycle clubs," Mr Parker's affidavit says.

The clubhouse was previously banned for use by members after police got a "restricted premises order" to shut it down, give them unlimited warrantless search powers, and bar any criminal offender or associates from stepping foot inside.

The Rebels clubhouse in Albion.
The Rebels clubhouse in Albion.

Mr Parker had the order revoked in court last year, but told the court hearing that police were trying to get a new order.

His lawyer told the court he had sent text messages to up to 53 past and current members of the club to tell them about the case in case they wished to take part, although some were hard to contact as he had no details or they were overseas.

Mr Parker was due to file his defence last week but it was not filed.

The case is set to return to court on August 11 unless the two sides agree to mediation.

Originally published as Bikies at war over $1m Brisbane clubhouse


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