‘We’re no crooks’ - Bikie leader hits back after police raid

PETER Fuller stands in the middle of a hollowed-out shed and scrapes his fingers through his beard.

It’s been 10 days since a team of heavily armed police officers stormed the Gladiators bikie clubhouse in Gunnedah, stripping it bare and branding the club’s members a “threat to the community”.

Mr Fuller, the long-standing president of the Gladiators’ Gunnedah chapter, yesterday spoke publicly for the first time since the raid, staunchly denying the club was a criminal organisation.

“We’re just old-school blokes who like to meet once a week and have a yarn,” Mr Fuller said.

“Our members come from all walks of life – farmers, coalminers, railway workers – and we’re here for the mateship and the love of bikes.”

Police seized seven truckloads of property in the April 4 sting, including 1500 bottles of alcohol, but no weapons or drugs were found on the premises or on club members.

“They took everything – the TV, the plants, even the bins out of the ladies toilets,” Mr Fuller said.

“It’s been devastating. They made us out to all be criminals and it’s just not true.

“We’re being discriminated against because we wear colours.”

He said the club’s members were considering legal action to force police to return the property.

The Bloomfield St headquarters is an unremarkable building, a large tin shed on the suburban fringes of Gunnedah.

Where once there was a long bar, pool table and scattered furniture, there’s now just empty space.

Mr Fuller said in the 10 years since the chapter was formed, not a single club member had been convicted of a serious criminal offence.

Through its annual Poker Run, he said the club had also raised thousands of dollars for local organisations, such as Mary Rankin Child Care, the Scouts and the Salvos.“Even as we were being raided, a man in a car pulled up alongside me and asked if we could help raise money for his daughter, who was going overseas for sport,” Mr Fuller said.

“It happens regularly in this community. People here know we’re a harmless club.

“We’re just ordinary people and if you look over your fence at your neighbour he could be one of us.”

He feared political pressure might still force the Gunnedah council to close the clubhouse down for good.

A grandfather of three and retired farmer and coalminer, Mr Fuller also has three sons who are Gladiators members.

He condemned new Queensland’s strong-arm anti-bikie laws, saying under the legislation he would not be allowed to meet with his sons in public.

“We just hope NSW doesn’t go the same way,” he said.

Oxley Local Area Command Inspector Jeff Budd, who headed up the raid, declined to comment on Mr Fuller’s claims.

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