Kuzma

Former drug mule gives evidence of bikie gang drug empire

A FORMER drug mule with firsthand knowledge of a criminal bikie gang's drug empire spanning regional Queensland has given evidence against two of the organisation's key players.

Convicted drug manufacturers and traffickers Michael Paul Falzon, from Ilbilbie near Mackay, and James Thomas O'Brien, from Rockhampton, face up to $17 million each in claims for profiting from crime.

O'Brien's former girlfriend, who appeared via audio-link, said she learned of his criminal activities in about 1998, up to two years after their relationship began.

She said they met in 1992 when he was still a nominee for the Rebels Motorcycle Club, to which both men have been linked.

Their romantic relationship began in 1997 when O'Brien, who is now serving a 14-year prison term, was a fully-fledged member of the gang.

Falzon, who is serving 10 years in prison, listened to the evidence in court.

The woman spoke of the first time she gave evidence against O'Brien and the fear she felt for her safety.

It came after she witnessed what she called an attempted murder in 2001.

She said she asked O'Brien to give her "$10,000 a bullet, and there were four bullets" in an effort to gain enough money to remove herself and her son from danger.

 

"I absolutely believed I was going to die," she said.

 

The money was not paid and she later met police in a public park in Dalby to report an attack in which "my nose was broken and my house was destroyed".

She sent another letter to O'Brien to demand $10,000 after speaking to police in an attempt to throw him off the scent - to make him think she had not given a statement.

"I was terrified of every one of them. They were all capable of following through," she said.

She said her son went to Ilbilbie to get machinery training "tickets" from Falzon.

When questioned about why she would let her son get involved with the group, knowing their criminal involvement, the woman stated: "Once I realised he (O'Brien) was a drug dealer I was already in. I was in too far."

The woman gave a 32-page statement to police in 2002 which was key to the duo's convictions.

She spoke of driving O'Brien around while he was "learning to cook" methylamphetamine, acting as a drug mule and helping to cut pure speed down to "street level".

She was given immunity for her evidence.

Falzon's barrister made reference to businesses including an opal mine, a sawmill and a machinery operation involving trucks and bulldozers thought to be owned by O'Brien and Falzon.

More witnesses including the woman's son, a police drug expert and a scientist are due to give evidence today.

- APN NEWSDESK



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