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Sunday, 22 March 2009

fullscale gunfight between the warring Comancheros and Bandido motorcycle gangs.

15:33 |

Milperra Massacre wars in full public view threatens to return Sydney to one of the darkest periods of its modern history.The battle at Sydney airport and rival gangs taking their blood feuds into suburban streets takes the city back to an infamous Father's Day almost 25 years ago.In a gun battle that has gone down in criminal folklore as the Milperra Massacre, two bikie gangs turned a local pub carpark into a killing ground. They fought with automatic weapons, shotguns, chains, knives, baseball bats, iron bars and knuckledusters.It happened at a bike swap meet attended by many of Sydney's motorcycle fraternity. On sale were bike and car parts - second hand, new and hot.First reports on that sleepy Sunday afternoon said a man had gone berserk with a rifle at the Viking Tavern in Milperra and "a few shots" had been fired. But the "few shots" were the start of a fullscale gunfight between the warring Comancheros and Bandido motorcycle gangs.There was tension in the air as the Comancheros arrived at the tavern about 1pm, all heavily armed. Soon after, 30 Bandidos rumbled into the carpark, rifles and shotguns in scabbards fixed across their handlebars. A back-up van followed carrying more weapons.Both sides lined up at opposite ends of the car park.The bloodshed began with a signal from William George "Jock" Ross who had founded the Comancheros in 1968.Waving a machete in the air, Ross bellowed the order: "Kill 'em all."Shotgun blasts were drowned out by screams of terror and cries of abuse as the two gangs went at each other.Bystanders ran screaming from the scene while others hid behind trees and parked cars or ran into the hotel. More than 200 police were called but the battle continued for another 10 minutes while they tried to stop it.When the smoke cleared four Comancheros and two Bandidos were dead. An innocent victim caught in the crossfire was 14-year-old Leanne Walters, who was attending the swap meet with a friend. She was hit in the face by a .357 magnum bullet.Four bikies died from shotgun blasts and two from .357 magnum rifle shots. Another 20 people were admitted to hospital.
The scene in the Viking Tavern carpark that afternoon was horrific.Fallout from the gun battle over the coming years would be widespread.Inspector Ron Stephenson, called away from a family barbecue when the call came through from the police radio room, was not hit by any bullet but he became one of the casualties.Memories of the massacre would remain with him for the rest of his days. Another, Mark Pennington, one of the first on the scene, was awarded $380,000 for psychological damage.
One of the bikie leaders hanged himself in his prison cell.The Milperra Massacre was precipitated by the last mass defection among the powerful bikie gangs when a breakaway group of Comancheros formed the first Bandidos chapter in Australia. But quite a number of the gang members who took part in the battle that day belied their popular image of unwashed and dirty misfits.Among those at Milperra was a truck driver, a pay clerk, a marine engineer and an optical mechanic. One ran a family plumbing business, another played classical piano.The carnage was followed by the longest joint criminal trial in NSW history. Armed members of the tactical response group were stationed in the courtroom and police involved needed armed guards to get them home safely.On June 12, 1987, nearly three years later, a jury delivered 63 murder convictions, 147 of manslaughter and 31 of affray. Nine bikies, including Jock Ross, received life sentences.

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