Two bikie-linked brothers accused of the bashing murder of a man at a NSW Central Coast service station are seeking bail contending the crown case against them is weak.
Colin Crane, life member of the Rebels bikie club, and James Crane, ex-Rebels member, are charged with murdering Clint Starkey, 42, who was attacked at the Caltex outlet in Peats Ridge in April 2017.
While they were not present during the attack, allegedly carried out by four Rebels, the brothers – both aged 53 – have been charged on the basis of being part of a joint criminal enterprise.
Dennis Stewart, barrister for the brothers, applied for bail in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, submitting any trial would not be held until 2021 and describing the crown case against them as weak.
But crown prosecutor Mark Hobart SC opposed bail, alleging Colin Crane, who as a Rebels life member was “top of the tree”, directed the bashing of Mr Starkey while his brother helped organise the attack.
Mr Stewart said in the lead-up to the bashing, Mr Starkey had revved and accelerated his car towards the back of Colin Crane’s vehicle as if he was going to crash into it.
He said the crown alleged that this conflict, threats made by Mr Starkey and other provocative behaviour by him provided a motive for the attack at the service station.
It was “entirely comprehensible” for Colin Crane to feel concerned, alarmed, agitated and defensive of this provocative behaviour, his barrister said.
But his subsequent contact with associates and others arose out of “a legitimate concern for his own safety” and that of his family.
Mr Stewart said the crown relied on a visit to Mr Starkey’s parents by a group of men including Colin Crane, but the barrister said this could be inferred to be a visit to deter Mr Starkey and “pull him up”.
The inference was available that if he had been at the service station he could have restrained the attackers, who may have gone well beyond the scope of any alleged agreement, he said.
In relation to both brothers, the crown case was “very weak and there are inferences available consistent with innocence”, Mr Stewart said.
But Justice Mark Ierace noted the crown’s contention that a later “extraordinary threat, what might be described as outrageous threat” by Mr Starkey of harm to Colin Crane and his family prompted a changed response.
Mr Hobart alleged subsequent texts and telephone calls to “marshal the forces” led to the four assailants carrying out the fatal attack.
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Source: Cairns Post