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Court cases that shocked the GC in 2021



Kelly Wilkinson The mother of three’s horrific death shocked the country.Ms Wilkinson’s ex-husband Brian Earl Johnstone – a former US Marine – allegedly set Ms Wilkinson on fire at her Arundel property in April.Police allege he also caught alight, before jumping into the pool to douse the flames. He then ran off and was found injured nearby.Johnstone and another man, Bradley Bell, have been charged with murder.Bell is accused of driving his ex-work colleague to Ms Wilkinson’s Arundel property knowing of the ex-marine’s intent to kill her.The charges remain before the court.Ms Wilkinson’s three children went to live with her sister Danielle Carroll and her husband Rhys who have five children of their own. The Bulletin launched a successful campaign to build the family a new home.The Gold Coast also recorded a string of alleged domestic violence murders in 2021.Days after Ms Wilkinson’s death the body of Lordy Ramadan was found stuffed in a furniture chest in a Labrador unit. Her partner and carer was also found dead, in what police labelled a murder-suicide. Robyn Beever died in February. Her long-time husband was charged with her murder.In November, Mary Benedito was killed in a Southport unit. Her ex-partner Reo Te Whetu Marama Marsh has been charged with her murder.Bowden 10In July, detectives pounced on 10 men police allege have links to the Mongols bikie gang. They are accused of the public slaying of underworld enforcer Shane Bowden in a Pimpama driveway in October 2020. Their arrests followed the trickling of CCTV footage, photos of weapons, and a hefty award. Among those arrested were Haydn Forbes, son of Nick “The Knife” Forbes, and accused ringleader Ian Ronald Crowden. Bowden was shot 21 times, twice with a shotgun, and 19 times with a machine pistol, police say.After their arrest, police said they had smashed the Brisbane West chapter of the Mongols. The Bulletin revealed recently that police will allege some men test-fired weapons at a rural property in the lead-up to the shooting. Forbes recently failed at a bail attempt for freedom in Queensland’s Supreme Court. David Meatuai, Peter Michael Cummins, Joshua James Small, Junior Torope, Fidel Gunes, James Mau’u, Jake Taylor and Adam John Murphy all remain in custody. They’re all represented by high-profile Gold Coast lawyer Michael Gatenby.Shane Gibbs Former SAS soldier Shane Gibbs choked his wife twice in a horrifying attack that caused her to wet herself and was recorded by triple-0 operators.In the audio, Gibbs can be heard saying “you’re dead” in a cold and hard voice while his wife was calling for help.The Gold Coast community was left in disbelief after Gibbs walked from court in June, not required to spend time in custody. Gibbs was found guilty after a two-week trial in the Southport District Court.His now former wife told the court during sentencing: “I want to make one thing very clear. You nearly killed me and it still haunts me every single day.“It will never leave me. What you did all those years and even now is a choice.”An ex-SAS talks to police minutes after he had choked his wife in their Gold Coast bedroom.The woman spoke about how she would barricade doors and windows, hide household items that had cords so they could not be used to strangle her and ripped holes in pillows so she could breathe if smothered.Judge Geraldine Dann had sentenced Gibbs to three years’ prison with immediate release on parole. Attorney-General Shannon Fentimen appealed the decision but the Court of Appeal found the sentence was adequate.Finks and Mongols tensions flareThe death of Bowden and the arson of a barber shop spurred a state of hostility between the Finks and the Mongols, it was revealed this year.Police intelligence revealed members of the gangs had been ordered to “attack on sight”.The revelations were aired in documents tendered to the Southport Magistrates Court during a bail application for Tyrone Poole, the alleged national officer bearer of the Mongols, who was accused of brawling with rivals from the Finks at the Australia Fair Shopping Centre in June.“Police have credible intelligence that both the Mongols and the Finks have ordered ‘attack on sight’ to any member of the other gang,” court documents from the time stated.The documents said there had been hostility “between these criminal organisations since the murder of Finks member Shane Bowden in 2020” and the arson of a Mongols-owned barber shop south of Brisbane.Senior police downplayed the tensions between the two clubs at the time – saying it was the “nature of the beast”.“There’s always tension between outlaw motorcycle gangs,” the senior officer said.Omega Ruston cold caseA $250,000 reward was in January announced in the Omega Ruston murder investigation as police continue to probe the Gold Coast cold case.Mr Ruston died following a suspected road rage attack at Burleigh Heads on Australia Day in 2009. He was shot dead on the side of the Gold Coast Highway.The reward came after recent developments in the case following a renewed investigation by the Homicide Cold Case Investigation Team and Gold Coast Criminal Investigation Branch.In January, Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn from the Gold Coast CIB said police were actively probing Mr Ruston’s murder and new DNA evidence and witnesses had been identified.“We still believe the persons directly involved in the shooting death of Omega were linked to the Gold Coast and Sydney chapters of organised crime syndicates and outlaw motorcycle gangs,” he said.Omega’s parents Phil and Wendy Ruston told the Bulletin this year they refused to be corroded by the thought of their son’s killers, and believe police are closer than ever to bringing them to justice.Baluch in a truckA Queensland constable will go down in folk law after knocking on the side of a truck, and ending a two-week national manhunt for fugitive and alleged drug financier Mostafa Baluch.Baluch was found hiding inside a grey Mercedes SUV in the shipping container carried by a truck as it attempted to cross the NSW-Queensland border on November 10.The 33-year-old allegedly skipped bail, despite strong opposition from police. Police pulled over the truck at the border.“Famously, as we’ve said, there was a knock on the side of the truck and he knocked back,” Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said of the arrest.Then-police Minister David Elliott said at the time: “ … I’m tracking down the constable that did the famous knock on the side of the truck. He’ll get a beer and a hug from me when the borders open,” he joked.Baluch faced Southport Magistrates Court where he was extradited back to NSW.Logan DreierGold Coast Police were criticised in October by a coroner looking into the death of a teenager in Southport, saying it would have been prevented if police abandoned a “dangerous and unjustified” pursuit.Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley singled out two officers – communications co-ordinator (Comco) Sergeant David Martin and Senior Sergeant Braydn Murphy – who she said “utterly failed to comply” with their duties and obligations while handing down her findings.The criticism came after a five-day inquest in July.Logan Dreier, 18, died when the stolen ute he was driving flipped multiple times as he tried to negotiate the corner of Southport-Nerang Rd and Queen St at 9.30am on August 9, 2019.As police were giving first aid on the side of the road, Logan uttered his final words: “Is my friend OK?”Video compiled by Ethical Standards Command showing police pursuing a stolen vehicle before it crashed in Southport, Gold Coast, killing teenage driver Logan Dreier.Findings from a scathing 99-page report by Coroner Bentley released in October included that the risk the pursuit posed to the public and police officers “did not justify the dangerous pursuit of two offenders who were suspected of breaking into a house” and Sen Sgt Murphy and Sgt Martin had a “comprehensive understanding” of their duties in regard to pursuits but failed to comply with them.Cobby sentenced to lifeAndrew John Cobby will serve out life in jail for the murder of his estranged wife Kym Cobby.In November, Cobby, 59, was found guilty by a jury of murdering the mother-of-three. Her bloodied body was found outside her Gold Coast hinterland home in 2017.She had been attacked with a hammer and choked to death in the driveway of her own home.Justice Peter Callaghan sentenced Cobby to life imprisonment and urged him to reveal his motive for the murder.“I’m not sure there was much else in your life for which you will actually want to be remembered, but it is still possible that you could do one remarkable thing in your life, and it would be truly remarkable if even now at this point you found it within yourself to simply tell the truth. You can still do that and you will have time to think about whether you will,” he said.He labelled the crime as “sickening”.Justice after 37 yearsThe man who killed Gold Coast woman Linda Reed 37 years ago was in March jailed for 20 years.Troy James O’Meara had earlier pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of Ms Reed on December 13, 1983, when he was 17.Just 18 months later, O’Meara raped and killed Vanessa O’Brien, 22, whose body was discovered at a north Brisbane refuse tip in 1985.He is serving a life sentence for Ms O’Brien’s murder.The court heard that on the day of Ms Reed’s death, the jewellery sales assistant at Pacific Fair shopping centre had taken her lunch break but colleagues became concerned when the “reliable” employee failed to return to work.Three days later, police discovered Ms Reed’s abandoned vehicle in bushland at Helensvale. The court heard Ms Reed’s body was found face down in a creek bed.Jayden MooreaEight years after Gold Coast Titans cheerleader Breeana Robinson fell to her death from a Southport high-rise, the man accused of her murder – Jayden Moorea – was in January committed to stand trial.Witnesses, experts and Ms Robinson’s cheerleading colleagues told the Southport Magistrates Court what they recalled of the events leading up to that night during a nine-day committal hearing.Moorea, formerly known as Daniel Shearin, is accused of throwing Ms Robinson from the balcony of the H20 building in Southport on January 29, 2013, and damaging evidence by destroying a mobile phone.At the end of the committal defence barrister Angus Edwards, instructed by Hannay Lawyers, told the court: “My position is that this matter is unlikely to have reasonable prospects at trial but that is not the test at the committal hearing.“My position is that the evidence fits no more than that description – weak, tenuous and vague – and limps over that very low bar (to be committed to trial).”Outside of court, Ms Robinson’s aunty Janine Mackney made a tearful statement saying there was “still another big step to go”.“I was her aunty, I was her friend and I was her boss at work,” she said.“She was so young, she had so much to live for and it’s just all been taken away.”Moorea’s trial will take place in the Brisbane Supreme Court in the coming months.CM domestic violence helplinesNED-2822-GCB-APPNED-3269 Gold Coast Download Newsletter follow Lea Emery

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