The mysterious assassination of Rebels boss Nick Martin in front of thousands of people at a family event sent shock waves through Western Australia, triggering fears of a motorcycle war.
A single shot was fired from a distance of 335 meters that pierced Mr Martin’s chest before boarding former Bandidos bike Ricky Chapman at Perth Motorplex on December 12 last year, triggering a theory that a professional killer was behind the attack.
As the months went by and no arrests were made, Perth remained on the edge.
But what people did not know was that the police had a very strong track that they were chasing.
A crucial mistake by the sniper meant that the police were able to gather evidence and build a case against him.
The killer, who cannot be identified, had taken his rifle to an authorized armored man in January and asked to have it replaced.
He then assembled the rifle less than a week later, the Western Australian Supreme Court was told this week.
The following month, police visited the arms man’s premises and seized the rifle barrel.
Forensic tests confirmed that the projectiles fired from it were in line with the bullet removed from Mr Chapman.
Investigators further determined that the man was at the engine complex at the time of the shooting and specifically at the location from which the shot was fired.
He was identified as a suspect and put under surveillance, the court was told.
In March, the 35-year-old was arrested and charged with the murder of Mr Martin.
During a sentencing hearing last week, Judge Stephen Hall described Martin’s murder as a “contract killing.”
“Crimes of this nature are not only serious in themselves, but they strike at the heart of our system of law and order,” he said.
“The safety of all members of society depends on respect for legal authority. A contract killing is in fact an illegal public execution.
“The importance of public dismissal and general deterrence is particularly important for an offense of this nature.”
Justice Hall also noted that Mr Martin’s friends and family – including his wife, stepdaughter and a child – witnessed his murder.
“You knew when you fired that his wife was sitting next to him. The trauma they were experiencing was completely predictable,” he said.
Justice Hall further ruled that the main mitigating factor in the case was that the man was willing to testify against Rebel-turned Comanchero bike David James Pye, who allegedly orchestrated the killing.
Pye has not yet pleaded guilty to several charges against him, including the murder of Mr. Martin.
He allegedly paid the sniper to investigate and see Mr Martin in preparation for the murder and allegedly offered him another $ 600,000 to kill someone else, though it never came to anything.
Justice Hall noted that the sniper had given a detailed witness statement and signed a pledge to testify at any trial against Mr Pye.
“Your future promised cooperation is of great importance to ensure that others who can bear some responsibility for what happened are brought to justice,” the judge said.
“This assistance exposes you to a risk from those who would try to prevent you from testifying or who seek retaliation for having done so.
“This will mean increased problems because you will be kept in a very restrictive environment.
“There is no doubt that your collaboration falls into the extraordinary category.
“A significant discount is due not only to giving you an incentive to keep your promise, but also to make it known to others that collaboration will be rewarded where it serves the greater public interest.”
The man avoided a life sentence and was instead jailed for 20 years. He will be eligible for parole after serving 18 years behind bars.
If he fails to cooperate with the authorities as promised, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 30 years.
Defense attorney David Manera indicated to out-of-court reporters that his client could consider an appeal.
Meanwhile, the heartache of Mr Martin’s family was also evident in court during the sentencing, when a person went out in tears and his father angrily held a fist up against the sniper.
Justice Hall said the family members spoke “strongly about the shock and grief” they each felt at Mr Martin’s death in their respective statements of impact on the victim.
Sir. Martin’s daughter Tia described him as her best friend.
She had recently given birth to a baby named Niki in honor of her father, and he had spent a lot of time with them.
She said she continued to feel numb and thought of her father every day.
Sir. Martin’s mother Rhoda Grimes said her whole world had collapsed and the way he died would haunt her for the rest of her life.
She described Mr Martin as a trusted and reliable rock in her and her family’s lives.
Sir. Martin’s father Sidney said there were no words to describe his pain, adding that his family had been devastated.
He also said he was experiencing a living nightmare and had lost the will to do things.
Sir. Martin’s sister Renee said she felt flat, rarely saw friends and mostly stayed home.
She said she believed her brother was invincible and she did not believe he would die when she was told he had been shot.
Sir. Martin’s wife Amanda described him as her whole world and said he was a kind, generous and funny man.
They were together for 11 years and had plans to retire and enjoy peace and quiet together, she said.
Without Mr Martin, she said she felt vulnerable and feared for her safety.
Martin’s stepdaughter Stacey Schoppe said the things she witnessed the night of the shooting remained with her.
“Whatever opinion others may have had about Mr. Martin, it is clear that he was much loved by his family and they have been devastated by his murder,” Justice Hall said.