Blair Raymond Thomsen pleaded guilty to one count of extortion.
Blair Raymond Thomsen pleaded guilty to one count of extortion. Warren Lynam

Law protects bikies from their own violent culture - judge

BULLIED bikies deserve legal protection just like everyone else, a judge has said after hearing gang culture compared to hard-hitting rugby league games.

On Tuesday, former Bandidos Sunshine Coast president Blair Raymond Thomsen appealed his 45-month jail sentence for extortion.

No actual violence was used when Thomsen compelled another man to give up a motorcycle worth about $17,000.

But Thomsen's barrister Mark McCarthy told Queensland Court of Appeal the sentence was excessive, and more akin to cases with "threats to life and limb" or the use of weapons.

The barrister said this case involved people who were arguably "willing participants" in a world where violence was normalised.

He said it was important to understand that context, "just as violence on the rugby league field" was treated differently from similar violence off the field.

The barrister said the context of Thomsen's offending was "objectively less serious" than in comparable cases.

He also said it was less serious than if a random member of the public had been extorted.

Mr McCarthy said given their unique group dynamics, the bikies were arguably "less entitled by their choice" to protection in cases such as this.

But Justice Robert Gotterson said upholding that argument would be "a step towards toleration of these gangs as outlaws and beyond the law".

Justice Walter Sofronoff said a current or former gang member was no less worthy of protection than any other Australian.

And Justice Sofronoff said though no physical violence erupted in this case "that's what extortion's all about. Otherwise it would be armed robbery."

"This is an organisation that has, as one of its features, that you may have to transfer ownership [or] you'll be beaten up," Justice Sofronoff added.

"And you say that's not very serious because those are the rules of the organisation?"

Justice Sofronoff said the violence threatened was implicit, understood, and sufficient to achieve its end - to "steal" the motorbike by extortion.

The appeal was dismissed. -NewsRegional                                                                                                                                                                        


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