22 August 2022

Alleged bikie gang figure narrowly avoids having bail revoked

| Claire Fenwicke
Man in hoodie

John Wright, also known as John Winchester, has avoided having his bail revoked. Photo: Albert McKnight.

An alleged senior bikie gang member has been warned “police are watching your every move”, as his bail was continued in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (12 August).

Prosecutors applied for John Donald George Wright’s bail over alleged drug and weapons offences to be revoked after former president of the Canberra Rebels motorcycle gang Ali Hassan Bilal indirectly tried to contact Mr Wright.

Mr Wright has previously been alleged to be the vice-president of the Canberra Rebels.

He was arrested overnight for the breach.

Mr Wright, also known as John Winchester, had been on bail since November 2021. His bail conditions stipulated he could not be in contact directly or indirectly with such associates.

An AFP Taskforce Nemesis senior constable told the court police had intercepted phone calls between Bilal and his wife, Chloe, in which he asked for her to tell Mr Wright to sell the ute and motorcycle of another associate.

“In some of the calls, Bilal tells Chloe that Mr Wright has to provide her money weekly to the sum of $1,500, and to cover dog food,” he said.

“It shows that [Mr Wright] is in contact with Bilal indirectly.”

Ms Bilal was the licensed owner of several racing greyhounds, of which Mr Wright was the trainer.

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The prosecution argued while the calls “may at first blush seem quite innocent”, they showed an “ongoing relationship” between Bilal and Mr Wright.

However, defence attorney Steven Whybrow pointed out the contact had not been made directly to Mr Wright.

“Mr Bilal did not even contact him,” he said.

However, Magistrate James Lawton questioned how he could “interpret it any other way”.

“There has been contact,” he said.

“There has been communication,” Mr Whybrow replied.

“Oh, come on, Mr Whybrow … that’s not a useful submission,” Magistrate Lawton said.

Mr Whybrow then argued it was Mr Wright’s first breach of his bail conditions since they were imposed in November 2021.

He instead asked for a warning from the court to serve as a lesson to Mr Wright about “how closely and seriously officers are taking his bail conditions”.

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Magistrate Lawton ultimately found while it was a breach of bail conditions, it was done so “inadvertently”.

But he warned Mr Wright while his bail would continue, he should be aware “police are watching your every move”.

“If you are stupid enough to breach any more of these bail conditions, you will be remanded [in custody] for a very long time,” Magistrate Lawton said.

Mr Wright was next slated to appear before the court on 29 August.

Taskforce Nemesis was established in 2014 to track, disrupt and arrest members of outlaw motorcycle gangs involved in criminal activities across the Territory.

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