Judge drastically reduces bikies' contempt sentences

THREE Sunshine Coast bikies have been jailed for contempt after refusing to swear an oath during star-chamber hearings to gather bikie gang intelligence.

But a Supreme Court justice has substantially reduced their mandatory jail time for staying silent at Crime and Misconduct Commission hearings to account for "harsh" solitary confinement in Woodford Correctional Centre's bikie-only unit.

Justice Peter Applegarth, in finding the contempt allegations proved, said one day in the unit - citing new rules requiring bikies to spend 22 hours a day in solitary confinement - would be equivalent to one week in a normal prison environment.

The management rules at the bikies-only high-security section at Woodford would also restrict visits, communications and access to facilities, and require bikies to wear pink uniforms.

Prisoner X and Y had five-month jail terms reduced to four weeks while prisoner Z had six months reduced to six weeks.

The men - whose identities have been kept secret - have each served just over two weeks in custody since the hearings in late November.

"A requirement to serve a substantial part of the sentence in solitary confinement and in those conditions would be extremely harsh," Justice Applegarth said.

"Any substantial period of solitary confinement carries a high risk of causing serious psychological damage to the respondent, which will endure after his release.

"Such enduring consequences carry dangers for members of the community.

"In some circumstances one day in unusually harsh custody, such as an overcrowded watchhouse, can be roughly equated with a week spent in prison.

"It would be open to me to conclude that each day of a lengthy period of solitary confinement of the respondent would equate to a week spent in normal prison conditions."

Justice Applegarth said impeding an intelligence operation relating to criminal motorcycle gangs was serious.

He noted all three had a significant incentive to purge the contempt because a second contempt for a hearing into the same intelligence gathering carried a minimum two-and-a-half-years jail time.

The individuals
Prisoner X: Aged in 20s, close ties to CMG, minor criminal history, never been to prison before, close ties to CMG and associated with president. Five months jail reduced to four weeks.
Prisoner Y: Early 20s, minor criminal history, never been to prison, close ties to CMG and associated with president. Five months jail reduced to four weeks.
Prisoner Z: Early 30s, lengthy criminal history, been to jail for violence offences, probationary member, nominated to become full member, allegedly threatened a business owner as a CMG representative, allegedly planned to form a feeder street gang to recruit CMG members with CMG approval. Six months reduced to six weeks.

CMG prisoners
- Must wear pink uniforms
- Out of cell time restricted to at least two daylight hours a day
- No visits from other CMG members
- One hour non-contact personal visit with family members each week
- No TV in cells
- No access to gym
- No CMG membership items
- Frequent, proactive cell searches - minimum once a week
- Minimum fortnightly drug testing