It all started on Saturday the 7th December at about 10am. My partner, Ben Wilson and I had been working together to set up a retail clothing store. The location of the store was a decommissioned ex bikie club hangout on Thornsbourne Street, Beenleigh. The owner was, for obvious legal reasons, unable to set foot in the premises because he is a member of the rebels MC. if he stepped foot in the store he was going to get 6 months jail time, so Ben and I helped his wife and daughters with the set up of the clothing store.
We attended the shop that morning to finish the fit out for the grand opening (7th december 2013), which was scheduled to take place the following day, Sunday December 8th. Upon our arrival, we found 3 police officers out the front of the store, questioning the gentleman who was helping us prepare for the opening. We immediately went out to speak with the officers, and Ben happily invited them inside to allow them to inspect the store and confirm that it was a legitimate retail establishment. We wanted to ease their minds that it was no longer a Rebel’s club house. They accepted and walked in behind Ben and me. They asked a few questions and had a look around. They seemed perfectly satisfied with what they found,which was a boxes of clothing and bike parts, and advised us that there would be a police presence on site the following day, as we were expecting a reasonable civilian and media turnout for the event. The police gave us absolutely no reason to feel that what we were doing was in any way a breach of law, and seemed friendly and amiable. Ben and I were left alone for the rest of the day. We finished our preparations and went home for the night.
The following morning, Sunday the 8th of December, was our grand opening, and Ben and I got there at about 7.30am-8.00am. There was already 1 police car out the front of the store at that stage, however we thought nothing of it, as the police had made it clear that they would be in attendance to monitor the crowd activity. We went about our business, setting up stalls and a Kidney Donation stand.
However, by 8.30am-9.00am there were around 20-30 police in the street, breath testing, drug testing and profiling everyone that came to attend. It was unnerving and both ben and I were worried about the overkill measures the police seemed to be taking. The business opening was in no way related to any “Lawless Association” and the police presence was extreme.
We had a jumping castle for the children, and to my horror, the police began searching the castle itself for drugs. We also had a number of historic vehicles on display; the police quickly issued defect notices on every single one of them.
Next, the police approached Ben and asked for ID. He complied and offered his driver’s license which had expired three days prior. He was not in or near a vehicle at all, however they told him that they would either fine him or impound his car. Ben opted for the fine and they left. I was becoming increasingly frightened as I couldn’t understand their behaviour. I didn’t realise he could be fined for walking around with an expired driver’s license and I knew that their motives were becoming increasingly sinister.
At approximately 10am, Channel 7 News arrived. At this point in time, I was inside the store, selling clothing. Suddenly everyone began calling out to me, “Ben is being arrested!”
I ran outside to see Ben in handcuffs being escorted out by 3 officers! Ben was completely compliant with them and did not resist arrest. After Ben was taken away, I stayed at the shop and waited to hear what was happening. I had no idea why he had been arrested and was, quite honestly, petrified.
At around 3.30pm, 2 officers came to the shop telling me they were taking Ben to our house to search it. They took our garage remote from the car and said that when they finished, I could go and see Ben at the Beenleigh Police Station.
They finished the search and I went to see Ben at 4.30pm. Ben told me he was facing six months imprisonment. Everything seemed surreal. Ben was arrested as a bikie “associate”.
So many questions have arisen since he was incarcerated: If Ben was classed as an associate, why was he not arrested on the 7th of December when he offered the police a tour of the store? Why did his arrest need to be publicly displayed in such a humiliating manner? Surely if he is an associate, then he must have been one on the 7th.
Ben’s bail hearing took place at Brisbane Magistrates Court on December 17th. I sat in amazement as the prosecution discussed what they had found during the raid of our home: a single Rebel’s flag which indicated his involvement in the outlaw motorcycle group. I was outraged; the flag to which they were referring to was a Confederate flag Ben had purchased on eBay as he was a Dukes of Hazard fan. They also found a anonymous face mask that was also purchased on ebay for the December 1st rally against the VLAD legislation. They are also holding that against him.
Bail was promptly denied on the 17th of December and Ben has remained in Arthur Gorrie Remand Centre since the 8th of December. Since then, I have lost everything trying to fund Ben’s legal battle. I sold my furniture and lost my home, returning to live with my parents, however our legal team have quoted us $20,000 to be able to attempt to obtain bail for Ben in the Supreme Court. I just don’t have the money to be able to fight this anymore.
Since Ben was arrested, I have come close to the point of complete breakdown. I have suffered severe stress related illness and some days the situation just overwhelms me. Ben has no criminal record and has never been a Rebel. He doesn’t even possess a motorbike license, however he is still sitting in a cell at Arthur Gorrie for a crime he hasn’t committed. I only hope this fate doesn’t befall other innocent Qld citizens, however with the Yandina Five and others like Ben awaiting a verdict that feels as though it will never come. I find it hard to maintain that hope.
I have visited Ben 3 times so far, Monday the 31st of December, 6th of January and 26th January. I could only have personal contact with him on arrival and at the end of the session. He has lost a lot of weight and hardly eats in there, he said that they only get minimal portions of food in there and finds himself having hunger pains every day. The black circles around his eyes from not sleeping are so bad that it looks like hes been punched in the face. He is not coping well in there at all.
Ben told me “There’s a fight in there everyday and there is drugs everywhere too. What I can’t believe is that there are scissors just laying around.” But he has managed to be good with everyone in his unit, but is still constantly watching his back and is very anxious and on edge. He has his own cell that has its own shower and toilet. His bed is as thin as paper and he gets one visit a week, up to 3 people and they’re contact visits. He gets as many phone calls a day as he wants. He writes letters to me as often as he can. He is as good as can be expected. He is hungry, frustrated, bored and just wants to come home. Although Ben is not in solitary confinement like others being held under the Unfair VLAD Legislations, there is nothing stopping the law from suddenly revoking all the rights thats mentioned above, and placing him in Solitary Confinement.
Ben is innocent and a loving father of 2, a loyal friend and a loving and supportive partner. Ben loves doing photography, wake boarding, surfing, camping, doing up cars and all activities like that. In no way is he a criminal or does any sort of criminal activity. I think these laws are wrong with the way there going about it all. It’s like Nazi Germany, we have “Hitler” the 2nd dictating who we can and cant be friends with, what we can and can’t do, these are not anti-bikie laws they are anti-people laws,
they effect everyone, law abiding or not. No one is safe and no one knows if they are classed as an associate or not, it’s destroying families and people’s lives the legislation’s need to go and so does Mr Campbell Newman. While i’m in support of getting the criminals that are actually doing the wrong thing, these laws are not being used to do so and are well over the top with the enforcement and punishment for simply being friends with someone, and now myself and our families are now in fear of getting caught up in the VLAD legislation.
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