CONTENT WARNING: This article contains offensive language.
While the former boss of the Canberra Rebels once said he was “happy to go to jail” during a rage-filled rant, he started a bail application over an upcoming appeal just a week after getting locked up.
But 50-year-old Ali Hassan Bilal failed in this bid so will likely remain in prison until his appeal is heard in court next month.
On 2 August, Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker sentenced Bilal to 13 months’ jail, with four to be served as full-time custody.
She had just convicted him on charges of using a carriage service to threaten to cause serious harm as well as using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence over a series of foul-mouthed and aggressive phone calls to four recipients that had been intercepted by police.
In a call on 19 January 2021, he said: “Twenty-four hours you’ve got to get the f**k out of my state; otherwise, I’m gunna shoot you. And take your f****n’ b***h with you”.
On 26 June 2021, he told a woman he had known since she was eight years old that he wanted her to get another man to meet with him.
“I’m gunna f**k him, his mother, his father, I’m not gunna leave anybody tonight,” he screamed.
On 12 August 2021, Bilal said he and others would go to a man’s worksite and “we’ll deal with you in public in front of everybody to finally make a statement in this town”.
“I’m happy to go to jail for it,” he said.
But last week he asked the ACT Supreme Court to grant him bail pending an appeal to his sentence.
Justice Geoffrey Kennett was “reluctant” to assess the strength of the appeal, but said there were two points where it appeared as though it could be argued that Chief Magistrate Walker had made an error.
For instance, he said she referred to how Bilal and some recipients of the calls were members of the Canberra Rebels, as well as to the nature and reputation of their motorcycle gang being a factor that could enhance the fear that was experienced.
But he said it appeared there was no basis in the material before her for her to draw any conclusion on the nature and reputation of the Rebels, so she must have raised that from her own general knowledge.
Justice Kennett said bail could only be granted in these circumstances if special or exceptional circumstances existed, but they usually could be established if the utility of an appeal was compromised by a large part of a sentence being served before the appeal was heard.
In this case he said the appeal could be heard when Bilal had only served about one quarter of the four-month period behind bars.
Justice Kennett admitted that prospect was “far from ideal”, also noting Bilal’s barrister John Purnell SC had argued a single day spent in jail when a person was qualified to be granted bail was unacceptable.
But he also said the total sentence was 13 months as well as an 18-month recognisance order, and ultimately refused bail with “some hesitation”.
Bilal smiled at his supporters in the court’s gallery after the decision was handed down and mouthed words to them. His appeal was scheduled for 1 September.
His former barrister Margaret Jones SC has previously said he is no longer involved with the Rebels.