Edward Bennell won’t realise it, but the five years in jail he will do as punishment for beating bikie David Murray Orme is probably more palatable than the retribution being prepared by the Nomads outlaw motorcycle gang.
In a moment of madness in April last year, Bennell and a group of friends stormed the home of Mr Orme’s girlfriend. In the next few minutes, Bennell used a letterbox and meat cleaver to ruthless effect, leaving his victim with a shattered face.
To understand why five years inside was the easy option for Bennell, you need to go to Montreal, the French Canadian city that was the birthplace of two phenomena that took the world by storm: Cirque du Soleil and the Rock Machine bikie gang.
In the early 1990s Hells Angels leader Maurice “Mom” Boucher decided he needed some elbow room and declared war on the Rock Machine. He used the Nomads gang, which MBA grads would describe as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hells Angels, as a kill unit.
The Rock Machine responded by setting up its own death corps, which went by the Dungeons and Dragons-esque title Dark Circle.
By 2002, with no fewer than 160 Canadians dead, the Nomads’ Australian chapters were hitting their stride under the leadership of a former altar boy, Tom Browne, nicknamed Metho Tom.
Three decades after becoming the club’s inaugural president Down Under, Tom was known as The King of Black Town.
In 1994 police believed the Nomads, Hells Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, Rebels and Black Uhlans had agreed to work together on the aspirational goal of controlling all drug-dealing, prostitution and extortion in Australia by 2000.
They were going to achieve this by joining forces with a New Zealand gang known as Highway 61 in an alliance orchestrated and initiated by three American gangs — Hells Angels, American Outlaws and the Bandidos.
Tom died of cancer three years later, making way for a new generation of leaders that included Sam Ibrahim — the brother of Sydney underworld celebrity John.
In 2006 Sam became president of the Parramatta chapter of the Nomads, which by this time was the second-largest outlaw motorcycle gang in Sydney behind the Rebels.
A year later, the chapter collapsed and re-emerged as a street gang that named itself Notorious. They were the original “Nike bikies”. Dirty denim and beards were replaced by waxed chests and stylish streetwear.
By the late Noughties, whatever goodwill left over from the historical links between the Nomads/Notorious and the Hells Angels had evaporated.
In February 2009, Notorious members were prime suspects in the bombing of a Hells Angels bikie clubhouse in Petersham in Sydney’s inner west.
That’s about the time that then WA Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich told a conference of Australian prosecutors that Notorious was heading to Perth.
Anticich said that the gang, along with the Lone Wolf and Rock Machine clubs, were muscling in for a slice of Boomtown’s meth trade.
The 293 members of WA’s existing seven bikie clubs simply could not keep up with demand.