The company that maintains the Hells Angels’ beloved Ponde stronghold offered prosecutors $10,000 to drop their unprecedented bid to seize the property, a court has heard.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the motorcycle club should not have its legal costs reimbursed, even though the audacious application to declare Ponde an “instrument of crime” has been abandoned.
Todd Golding, for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, said each side should walk away bearing no more than its own costs.
He said that position was supported not only by legislation, but also by Disorganised Developments itself – based on a letter the company sent to the DPP when the case began.
“In January, Disorganised Developments made an offer by way of deed – $10,000, with each party to bear its own costs, and a discontinuance of the case,” he said.
“That offer was not accepted … this is a case that’s about instrument of crime, simply offering an amount of money does not get to the heart of the question.
“This was about whether there was a public interest in the company being deprived of that instrument, and no amount of money was going to satisfy that – no offer was appropriate.”
In December, prosecutors filed a forfeiture injunction against the 15ha property which has, for more than 40 years, been the gang’s untouchable “home away from home”.
They asserted Ponde was “an instrument of crime” because the getaway car used in the murder of Mark Boyce had been buried there, leaving it liable for seizure.
Their case ran into trouble, however, when one judge had to disqualify himself and the gang’s lawyers argued the bid was an abuse of the legal process.
Last week, state government lawyers told the court the case would not proceed but did not give any reason as to why.
In a statement, Director of Public Prosecutions Martin Hinton QC – who launched the bid – said he had “reassessed the prospects of success and the associated cost”.
On Monday, Jonathan Wells QC, for Disorganised Developments, said his client deserved “compensation” for “all it had been through and suffered”.
He said the company’s directors “did not know” the car had been buried, and “fundamentally contested” the allegation it was used in the murder.
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“This property is not a ‘stronghold’ at all, it’s a barely-fenced, remote, rural property,” he said.
“The fencing on either side of the padlocked gate is laying flat on its face.
“The idea that this is a ‘stronghold’ is pretty much laughable … this is the very reverse of a stronghold.”
Justice Malcolm Blue has reserved his decision.