31 Dec 2015
Five alleged Hells Angels members are the first to be charged under controversial new “guilt by association” laws in South Australia.
The legislation came into force during August and restricts members from 10 declared criminal organisations from gathering in groups of three or more in public or wearing gang colours and logos.
Police allege the men are all members and prospective members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
They were arrested in a series of raids at suburban properties across Adelaide on Thursday morning.
Police said three of the five men had “associated together at Adelaide Airport” after arriving home from interstate travel earlier this month.
“And three were together outside a licensed premise at North Adelaide on Sunday,” a police statement added.
The laws were criticised from the moment they were proposed in SA.
Liberal MLC Andrew McLachlan crossed the floor in opposition to the laws in July, calling them “dangerous and oppressive”.
Prominent defence lawyer Craig Caldicott called the laws “guilt by way of means of association”.
He further added they were likely to be challenged in the court system as soon as the first arrests were made.
Assistant commissioner Linda Fellows said police had been reasonable in the application of the new legislation.
“However, there are consequences for those who disregard the law,” she said.
“The alleged circumstances of this offending is exactly what these new laws were designed to prevent, which is criminals coming together in public places where they create a risk to public safety.
“We are talking about people who are willing to commit serious assaults, intimidate people in our community with fear and be involved in unlawful drug distribution.”
Bail has been refused and the men are due to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court later.