17 February 2021

Comanchero bikie who 'craved acceptance' jailed over Canberra shooting and arson attack

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts

Axel Sidaros has been sentenced over a 2018 attack on a former Canberra Comancheros commander. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A young member of the Canberra Comancheros who was involved in a gunfight in which the motorcycle gang’s former commander lost his finger has been jailed for nearly 10 years over the attack.

Ending a retrial of the case, Axel Sidaros was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (16 February) by Justice David Mossop to nine years and nine months’ jail after finding the 26-year-old guilty of charges including intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, arson and endangering life, but he was found not guilty of attempted murder.

Justice Mossop said the attack was instigated in 2018 after a division arose in the Comancheros and previous commander Peter Zdravkovic was replaced by Pitasoni Ulavalu, who was killed in a Civic stabbing last year.

Mr Zdravkovic left the motorcycle gang in bad standing, Justice Mossop said, which disintegrated even further including when he photographed himself burning club colours and he was told to hand over items including motorbikes.

Justice Mossop said Sidaros, who was 23 at the time, went to Mr Zdravkovic’s home in Calwell in June 2018 with two others all wearing hoodies, full-length pants and gloves while Sidaros carried an Adler 12-gauge shotgun.

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Another person arrived with jerry cans of petrol and two of the unnamed people began to spread petrol on the carport and driveway, including on a Mercedes and BMW at the premises.

Mr Zdravkovic was home with his partner and their three-year-old child. He had stepped out of the shower when he heard a bang and saw people with guns. He grabbed his own rifle as shots were fired into the living room and he returned fire himself.

Mr Zdravkovic was hit in the left hand and ended up needing a finger amputated. Justice Mossop said it was unclear which of the shooters had fired the bullet that hit his hand.

As the shooters fled one ignited the petrol, burning the cars.

In court on Tuesday, Justice Mossop said Sidaros’ underlying motive was wanting do what was needed to become a patched member of the Comancheros.

He said Sidaros did not have a primary role in planning the attack and although he did play a significant role CCTV footage indicated he was a “follower rather than a leader”.

He said Sidaros maintained he has no knowledge of the offences which meant there was no expression of remorse, had remained a member of the motorcycle gang, and described him as a person who “craved acceptance and thought he’d found it amongst the Comancheros”.

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Justice Mossop said Sidaros had moved to the ACT from NSW and before he was taken into custody had lived with his family and almost finished a carpentry apprenticeship.

When it came to sentencing Justice Mossop took into account the “gang-related nature of the offending”, but also said Sidaros’ youth and positive family circumstances meant his possibility of rehabilitation must be taken seriously.

Sidaros has spent two years and five months in custody since his arrest so his sentence was backdated and he will be eligible for parole in February 2024. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in reparations.

Sidaros has reportedly indicated he will lodge an appeal over the matter.

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