A former Adelaide bikie who took part in a violent home invasion has had his appeal for a reduced sentence thrown out, despite being bashed three times in custody for turning on his colleagues.
Stuart James O’Neill, a former member of both the Gypsy Joker and Mongols motorcycle clubs, is currently serving a prison sentence of nine years and five months for the home invasion and a string of other unrelated crimes.
In September 2017, O’Neill had just left the Mongols to spend more time with his family. But, it wasn’t a clean split, because he still owed $18,000 in drug money to the gang’s national sergeant at the time, known only as AM.
AM’s sister urged O’Neill, 34, to participate in a violent break-in so he could pay back some of the debt. Five offenders, including O’Neill, forced their way into a South Australian property while wearing balaclavas and tied up two people, known to AM’s sister, inside.
One man at the property was tasered and punched in the face and kicked repeatedly. The “leader” of the group held a knife to his back and said “if you move, I’ll cut your f…ing throat”. He then instructed a co-offender to “stab him, f…ing kill him” if the victim moved.
The group was at the home, in an undisclosed location, for about 45 minutes as they stole three cars, three motorbikes, a trailer, electronic devices and $800 in cash.
Police arrested O’Neill later that day. He was eventually handed a prison sentence of more than nine years – with a non-parole period of five years – to be served cumulatively with other past crimes.
O’Neill appealed his sentence, which he claimed was “excessive”, but the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia dismissed it on Thursday.
Court documents show O’Neill previously co-operated with police and gave evidence against his co-accused, helping detectives penetrate the “wall of silence” enforced by bikie clubs.
As a result of his co-operation, O’Neill has been bashed at least three times by fellow inmates and labelled a “dog” within the prison system since he entered custody in November 2018.
While behind bars, O’Neill’s debt owed to AM has since doubled to $36,000 and he fears for future retribution against him and his family. The Honourable Justice Kevin Nicholson said it is “unusual” for a former bikie to give evidence against other members.
“And to assist the police with respect to offending in which such a gang or a senior office bearer … may have an interest in is, perhaps, even more unusual,” he said in judgment remarks released by the court.
However, Hon Justice Nicholson said O’Neill’s co-operation was “relatively moderate in terms of value to the authorities”.
He then dismissed the appeal, saying the original sentence adequately considered the possibility of “further physical retribution” against O’Neill.