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Hells Angels Kevin Wayne Gillard ,one of two hitmen hired by bikies to commit a double execution in 1996, released despite delusions

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Kevin Wayne Gillard, one of two hitmen hired by bikies to commit a double execution in 1996, is now living in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs despite maintaining “a number of bizarre delusions’’.

Gillard, who is now in his sixties, is residing at an inner-eastern suburbs supported accommodation facility after having his release on licence approved by the Supreme Court – despite suffering from severe schizophrenia. He is subject to strict conditions that include continued psychiatric treatment and bans on him entering certain suburbs.

In 1996, Gillard drove career criminal Gerald Preston, now 61, to a Lonsdale workshop to execute drug dealer Les Knowles.

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The pair entered the workshop and Preston approached Knowles, asking him and another man named Tim Richards “are you Les’’ before opening fire on both with a Luger handgun, killing them instantly. A third man suffered a minor bullet wound.

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At Preston’s 1998 trial, the court heard he had been paid $10,000 by senior Melbourne-based Hells Angel Terrence Tognolini, who was a close friend, to assassinate Knowles because his drug dealing activities were encroaching on Hells Angels turf.

Six months after Preston was convicted, his former wife Vicki Jacobs – whose evidence was crucial in his arrest and conviction – was executed as she slept next to her six-year-old son in her rural Victoria home.

Despite a $1 million reward, her murder remains unsolved with Tognolini considered the primary suspect.

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Preston’s 32-year non-parole period will expire in 2028, when he will be deported to the United Kingdom following the cancellation of his Australian visa.

Gillard was initially found guilty of murder but his conviction was later overturned and he was deemed mentally unfit to face a retrial. In 2008, he was placed on an indefinite supervision order committing him to detention by former Supreme Court Justice Margaret Nyland.

In 2018, Justice Anne Bampton revoked that order and substituted it with an order releasing Gillard on licence, subject to strict conditions, after he applied to the Supreme Court.

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In April last year, that order was varied to allow Gillard to have escorted day trips to his allocated supported accommodation. In February this year, Justice Bampton again varied that order to allow Gillard to have periods of overnight leave from James Nash House to reside at his allocated supported accommodation, provided he was escorted at all times.

The terms of that order allowed Gillard to have an increasing number of overnight leaves that would see him be discharged from James Nash House, following a comprehensive risk assessment. That process has now occurred and Gillard is living at the eastern suburbs supported accommodation.

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Conditions attached to his release include that he not “enter the south of Adelaide any further than O’Halloran Hill’’ and that he not enter suburbs including Cheltenham, Wingfield, Port Adelaide, Alberton, Pennington, Rosewater and West Lakes. Other conditions include a ban on drug and alcohol use, possessing a firearm or ammunition and that he submit to random tests for gunshot residue.

A psychiatric report prepared as part of Gillard’s 2018 application for release on licence states his progress “has been slow’’ because he suffers from severe schizophrenia that was resistant to treatment. It states he has consistently “harboured a number of bizarre delusions’’ and that his “insight and judgment remain poor’’. Despite those findings, the report states his treating team at James Nash House believe he “no longer requires the level of security afforded by James Nash House and he could be safely managed in supported accommodation in the community’’.

Former Major Crime detective Gerry Feltus, who led the investigation into the executions, said Gillard was “an unsophisticated petty criminal’’ who was easily influenced by others.

Detectives have released CCTV as part of their investigation into a drive-by shooting in Melbourne’s north-west earlier this month where Mongols bikie Shane Bowden was targeted.

“He was very much under the spell of Preston,’’ Mr Feltus said. “The pair had known each other for many years and in fact had stolen the exact same type of van in Victoria for a hold-up they committed together.

“When we arrested him he was lacking a lot of common sense, I think he was just in it for the ride. He was an accomplice Preston had used before, someone who he thought he could trust. He was very much under Preston’s control.’’

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