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ONE BASH TO MANY,A WILDCARD

THE LAST DAY IN THE LIFE OF GERRARD TOBIN

There is a twilight world of existence that coexists alongside the placid normality that the majority of people live and work in, It is insular, secret and anyone associated with it speaks to outsiders at the risk of death or serious harm. It is the world of the “Biker Gangs”. A heady mix of petrol fumes, sworn allegiances and a traffic in drugs that has been commonplace in that circle for more than fifty years. Killings, beatings and messages encased in a thin veneer of violence often spill out of this secretive world into the parallel world of normality.
          
In the UK the exposure of the population in general to the delivery of such messages is not all that frequent but this last weekend was different. This weekend saw the staging of “The Bulldog Bash” at the Shakespeare County Raceway at Long Marston near Stratford Upon Avon in Warwickshire. It is an event frequented by anyone who is anyone in the “Bikers World”. A mix of loud raucous music from The Dammed: Quo, Alex Harvey, Hells Bells, The Wurzels, Union Avenue and Who’s Next, with diversions into drag racing, motorcycle appreciation and a custom motorcycle and car show. The attraction has had several venues over the years but in recent times the Long Marston site has become its home. Joe Public is a regular visitor and in ever increasing numbers but perhaps myopically blind to the undercurrents of internecine rivalry between the gangs. The gangs are in evidence and the logos of many of them can be picked out on the panels of leather jackets all day long but the motives behind their presence at the event is harder to spot. Though many will rub shoulders with criminal elements of international standing and drug barons that make the South American cartels seem like amateurs very few will notice the hierarchy of the gang structure or know of their purpose in attending the event. Even fewer will witness the retribution that follows the recognition of a marked out target. In general the gangs have a code of ethics that preclude the involvement of anyone unconnected with them and their targeted retributions have tended to remain “In House”. The gangs are quite simply the “Grandfathers” of the current drug culture and have been running their operation for over half a century reinforced by extreme violence, clandestine secrecy and a command of loyalty that knows few equals. In many ways the control of each of the biker gangs is all about “Respect” and though money is a factor it pales to insignificance against the kudos of fulfilling a sworn undertaking.

On Sunday 12th August such an undertaking was in the final stages of completion, the spotters knew where their target would be that weekend probably from information received. A phone call or text to the right number would have brought the attention of the squad charged with satisfying an undertaking of perhaps many years standing. The Green Rover 620 lay in wait along the A46 for the right bike to pass by on the road from Long Marston to the M40 motorway. They would have followed at a discrete distance as a car in open countryside has neither the versatility nor the speed and manoeuvrability of a bike. As the bike joined the motorway the throb of its engine masked the sound of the door of the trap being set. Now there was no way out until the next exit road and the drama began. By now the prey would know their intent as speeds rose to the illegality of excess. It is unlikely that there would have been a single shot given the speeds and varying distances between the target and the squad, as they passed junction 13 heading south the biker who was in his thirties succumbed to the accuracy of one of the bullets coming his way. The car most likely left the M40 at junction 12 and a short time later was most probably being fed through a crusher in one of the many car-wrecking yards owned by fellow gang members. The perpetrators dispersed by motorcycle or car to entrench their alibi’s perhaps some of them returning to the traffic heading home from the “Bulldog Bash.  The unfolding circumstances of “The Hit” was not an event common to the M40 and within minutes the police would have been aware of what had taken place from the myriad witnesses to the crime. The section of the motorway affected was sealed off from junction 10 to 14 northbound and southbound between 15 and 12 whilst it is searched forensically. The closure captured 400 motorists who were held until an initial search had been carried out. Initial Police enquiries reveal that the biker was killed by a single shot to the back of the head and speculates that the weapon may have been a 9mm Styr hand gun though the weapon is as yet unaccounted for.The logistics of the attack suggest a "Hit" or contract killing. by virtue of the skill required to hit a target moving at 70 mph from a platform also moving at similar speed.

The organiser of the Bulldog Bash maintained that amongst the motorcycle fraternity death is a frequent visitor but no one expects to be shot.

On the surface this may seem a tragic isolated incident but events elsewhere have seen a similar scenario before. In 2001 a Canadian biker had attended the Bulldog Bash and was shot in the leg on the same motorway whilst making his way back to London. That attack bears a striking similarity to the events of Sunday 12th August the shooter was never apprehended. In October 2001 there was a shooting of a biker in Finland. He was a member of the “Bandidos” chapter and rivalries between the “Bandidos” and a new chapter called the “Undertakers” resulted in an almost carbon copy of the events that took place on the M40 on Sunday. Again the victim was Canadian and from London. The only difference being that they used a Red Volvo estate.

The Canadian connection is significant as The Bandidos and the Outcasts have been at war with the Hells Angels for many years, in Canada the death toll is hovering around 150. The Angels are a proscribed group in Canada.
The gangs know no borders and it is thought that the violence of the New World is spreading to Europe taken singularly the attacks and deaths seem unrelated but a pattern is emerging that denies that the rivalries between the chapters will remain peaceful. The Bandidos came to the UK via The Channel Islands where they virtually swallowed up the smaller “Islanders” chapter. Inroads have been made into the UK mainland and the Bandidos are active in Kent, London and the southeast and have been spreading steadily northward.
Everyone will have heard a story or have experience of breaking down in a car and a “Hells Angel” stopped to help, commendable but the story only covers a small part of their activities on a good day. Most like a “Sinner turned “Saint” and that is how PR works. Their more violent diversifications have left many chapter members shot to death and there are currently three cases coming to trial in the US/Canada and at least one in Australia. The financial turnover of some chapter run into seven figure sums and at first it might be thought that the motive fuelling the violence is money but it is not, it is all about “Respect”. The gangs are worldwide organisations, members join for life and they have achieved in twenty or thirty years that which took the Mafia 200 years, absolute control. Many members are card-carrying members of society, professionals of middle class respectability but their roots and allegiance is still with the gang.

JP.


Posted: August 15, 2007 



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