Slain bikie Shane Bowden’s early underworld life and allies
WHEN a South Australian police officer arrested lifelong bikie Shane Bowden at age 23 for break and enter, he made a few observations about the fledgling criminal:
Hair: crew cut.
The composite description, written in December 1995 after the officer executed a warrant at Scrubby Flat in South Australia, says much about Bowden's growing disdain for authority even 25 years before he was shot at point-blank range on the Gold Coast after fleeing Victoria following an attempted hit on his life.
While he rose to notoriety after the highly violent Ballroom Blitz, the Gold Coast Bulletin can for the first time reveal Bowden's early years of criminal offending and how he rose to prominence as a heavy-hitter in both the Finks and Mongols motorcycle gangs.
Over 30 years, Bowden went from Australian junior cycling champ to slain gangster at age 48. In between, he was in and out of jail for assaults on women, drug trafficking and break-ins.
The Bulletin can also reveal new details about the night the Finks "Terror Team" stormed the packed Royal Pines Resort at Carrara and attacked rival Hells Angels bikies, and who supported Bowden in his bid to get out on bail after the shooting attack alongside his once good mate, Nick "The Knife" Forbes.
Bowden was born in Adelaide in 1972.
Adopted at birth, alongside four other girls and a boy, he kept contact with his three biological brothers into his 30s.
After leaving school, Bowden worked as a truck driver and bouncer and in 1990 was Australian junior cycling champion.
After he gave the sport away following an injury, things started to unravel.
Bowden's 1996 break and enter wasn't his first brush with the law down south - that began four years earlier when he was fined $50 for carrying an offensive weapon.
By 1993, Bowden's criminal offending was escalating.
He was acquitted by a South Australian District Court jury of assault occasioning bodily harm and in the same year was fined $200 for trespass.
In 1994, he was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police and later fined $150 for driving more than 31km/h over the speed limit.
South Australian court documents show Bowden was becoming more intolerant of authorities and by 1995 was charged with obstructing police and possessing a controlled substance. He was fined $100 for carrying an offensive weapon.
By this time, he was heavily into the gym and working his way up the ranks of the Finks motorcycle gang.
THE GOLD COAST
Bowden had moved to the Gold Coast and was already becoming entrenched in the criminal underworld in 1996.
Two years later he would face court for his most serious offences yet.
In September 1998, he was convicted of trafficking 23.4g of cocaine.
Then 25, he was sentenced to a head sentence of six years' jail by the Brisbane Supreme Court.
Judge John Helman said at the time that Bowden's offending occurred against a background of the man being "addicted to drugs, including cocaine".
Around that time he failed to attend court, telling police he had a "bad drug problem and did not remember to go".
Judge Helman told Bowden he believed he had made "substantial efforts since your arrest … to turn over a new leaf".
"While some scepticism is quite in order when assessing assertions of sudden improvements of behaviour and attitude before an offender is sentenced, in your case I accept that you have made genuine efforts towards rehabilitation," he said.
But Judge Helman was right to be sceptical.
Bowden was back before the courts in 2005, receiving a nine-month suspended jail sentence for bashing a man while working as a bouncer on the Glitter Strip and ordered to pay $12,500 to the victim.
"The assault occasioning bodily harm was when I was working at the door of a nightclub and I punched a person that had spat at me," he told a court in a separate hearing.
A police brief from 2005 says the attack happened after the man was refused entry to a Gold Coast nightclub.
The victim told police he asked a bouncer why he couldn't get back into the club when Bowden walked out of the venue, grabbed him by the arm and pushed him on to footpath and said: "Because it's my club."
Police said the man asked Bowden again why he couldn't enter and he "responded by leaning his right shoulder back as if he was going to turn around … and then all of a sudden swung his right clenched fist through striking him in the mouth and teeth area".
Witnesses said they saw the man "fly through the air".
The man lost three teeth and surgery was required on his gums.
When police approached Bowden after the incident he claimed another man who looked like him had committed the assault.
The Bulletin can reveal that in 1997 Bowden had been convicted of a similar assault against a woman.
In an affidavit lodged in the Brisbane Supreme Court as he tried to apply for bail on the Ballroom Blitz charges, Bowden said the assault "arose out of an incident when I was working as a security officer in a nightclub and I pushed a female patron".
But police allegations from the time tell a different story.
They say Bowden was leaving Dooby's Nightclub with another person when he "barged" through the woman and her friends in Cavill Ave.
"A brief conversation was had between the complainant and the defendant. As a result of the conversation the defendant tightened up his leather gloves and walked to the top of the escalator where the complainant was sitting, punching the complainant to the right side of the forehead, also hitting the complainant's fiance," the document said.
"The defendant had then walked to the bottom of the escalator and walked off with his female companion into the crowded Cavill Mall."
T ERROR AT THE FINKS
Bowden was fully entrenched in the gang culture on the Gold Coast - running the club with Forbes in the Finks "Terror Team".
By 2006, the pair were thick as thieves and had each other's back in one of the biggest fights the Coast had seen.
Bowden made national headlines in March 2006 when he shot Christopher Hudson over his defection to the rival Hells Angels at a kickboxing tournament, where the wild brawl broke out.
Police sergeant Andrew Paul was rostered to perform special duties the night of the kickboxing event at Royal Pines Resort at Carrara.
He said in his statement from the time that the Finks were not wearing any bikie insignia when they showed up to the event.
When things started, Sgt Paul saw Bowden front and centre, trying to stop police passing him. "I told Shane Bowden to move out of the way to which he replied 'f. k off'," the statement said.
Food and beverage attendant Natalie Ann Mills was working at Royal Pines that night.
The then 24-year-old was asked by police to identify the man she saw firing the gun and she circled Bowden's face from a photo board.
"I am certain this is the person I saw with the gun at Royal Pines … I am certain this was him as I would never forget his face or his tattoos," she told police.
Bowden went on the run for three weeks after the brawl, leaving a note for police at the Finks clubhouse at Labrador and an exercise book on the kitchen benchtop with "handwritten notes and scribblings, including the name Christopher Hudson".
Bowden handed himself in to police about one month later and was granted bail shortly after being charged with attempted murder, assault, affray, going armed to cause fear and weapon possession but it was revoked after the committal hearing.
In an affidavit lodged to support a later unsuccessful bail bid, Bowden told the Brisbane Supreme Court he could easily get a job.
"I have always worked hard and am willing to do whatever work that is made available to me," he said.
His mate, Christopher Compton, was at the time running Archers Gym - a Southport fitness institution, which was once visited by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Compton said he had lined up some work for the man who described himself in documents as a "professional bikie".
He said he would pay Bowden $500 a week to clean machines at the gym.
"I know him to be a member of the Finks. I am not a member of the club, nor have I ever been," Mr Compton assured the court in February 2007.
"No other staff member of my gym is a member of this club."
Archers Gym was later torched by arsonists and Compton was himself in 2013 convicted after illegally importing semi-automatic firearms components from the United States.
Bowden told the court he could provide a $100,000 surety to support his release - put up by then senior Lone Wolf Stuart Dalziell.
Dalziell had also provided a surety for Forbes' release and told the court Bowden was a "close personal friend" who had "on occasions provided care and assistance to my children".
In September 2008, Bowden was sentenced to 6½ years' jail over the melee.
After his release, Bowden "patched" over to the Mongols when the international gang began to gain traction in Australia.
Bowden had recently rejoined the Finks after being booted out of the Mongols before returning to the Gold Coast after surviving a reported drive-by shooting in Melbourne in July. He was believed to have been recruiting members when he was shot dead by hooded gunmen in an execution-style slaying in the driveway of his Pimpama home.
The police investigation is ongoing.
Originally published as Slain bikie Shane Bowden's early underworld life and allies