Tattoo shop owner 'forced to sign over BMW to bikie'
TATTOO shop owner Steven Perry has told a jury of his fear while allegedly being forced to sign over his BMW car to former bikie Walter Robert Wintle.
Wintle, 40, sat in the dock of Maroochydore District Court on Tuesday while Mr Perry gave evidence in his trial for robbery and fraud.
Crown prosecutor Alex Stark told the jury Mr Perry, who owns Mr Ink Tattoo Lounge at Marcoola, had been forced to sign over his 2005 BMW sedan to Rebels motor cycle club affiliate Wintle on December 3, 2014.
However, defence barrister Simon Lewis said Wintle had given Mr Perry $6,500 cash for the car and Mr Perry later developed "seller's remorse".
Mr Stark said Mr Perry had advertised the car on Facebook for about $24,000 as well as Gumtree for $25,000 before being contacted by Wintle.
Mr Perry had previously taken the car to a car dealership where he was offered $10,000 for a trade-in.
Mr Stark said Mr Perry knew Wintle as "Robbo" and knew through Wintle's tattoos he was affiliated with the Rebels.
Those tattoos included a "one per cent" tattoo on Wintle's neck and "RFFR", which he understood to mean Rebels Forever Forever Rebels, on his knuckles.
Mr Stark said Wintle went to Mr Perry's Marcoola tattoo studio on December 3, 2014 after the two had spoken about the sale of the car.
"What Robbo did was rob him of it," Mr Stark told the jury.
He said Wintle took the car for a test drive before he organised for Mr Perry to follow him in the BMW back to a Kunda Park address.
The court heard Wintle drove a four-wheel-drive to the address which he left at the end of a driveway.
Mr Perry did not drive up the driveway and instead waited for Wintle to return.
Mr Stark said Wintle was sweating and was carrying a bag different to the one he had with him before.
Mr Stark said Wintle threatened Mr Perry during their return to Mr Perry's tattoo shop, saying he would be taking the car as a start-up fee.
Mr Stark said Wintle told Mr Perry he had snuck into having a tattoo shop and "the boys" weren't happy about it.
The court heard Wintle gestured he would crush Mr Perry's hands and reached into his bag saying words to the effect of 'you don't want me to use this'.
Mr Stark said Wintle made Mr Perry hand over the keys, sign ownership transfer documents and then write out a receipt for $6500 once they arrived back at the shop.
Wintle allegedly also warned Mr Perry about going to the police and threatened to kill him.
According to the Crown, Mr Perry called Wintle the next day demanding money for the car and Wintle hung up on him.
Wintle allegedly called him back later to tell Mr Perry if he wasn't happy with the deal he could go see the Bandidos or the Black Uhlans to get a better deal.
The court heard Wintle called back again later to say that he had not extorted him and if he found out Mr Perry had dobbed him in he would be back.
Wintle ultimately sold the car to a Brisbane dealer on December 15 for $8000.
Mr Lewis told the jury a different version of events.
He highlighted Judge John Robertson's advice to the jury that a person's affiliations with a bikie gang were not indicators of guilt.
"His honour has told you that you have to be very careful with respect to that," Mr Lewis said.
He also described Mr Perry's conduct after the sale as "very peculiar".
Mr Perry gave evidence he had told Wintle $20,000 was the lowest cash price he would sell the car for.
He said Wintle took the car for a test drive on December 3 and seemed happy with the car when he returned.
Mr Perry detailed the threats Wintle allegedly made against him when they were driving back to Marcoola after dropping the four-wheel-drive off at Kunda Park.
He said Wintle told him he didn't like what the boys were doing to tattoo shops but he would be alright if he mentioned he was with Wintle.
But he said that changed to being called sneaky and then demands were made for the car.
"He was saying that he was going to make my hands unrecognisable," Mr Perry said.
Mr Stark asked him if he was concerned for his personal safety.
"Yeah, of course," Mr Perry replied.
He said he was worried about the safety of his family, his partner and his shop, which only had third party insurance at the time.
The court heard Mr Perry did make an insurance claim on the vehicle in 2015, for which he was paid $24,000.
Mr Lewis referred to a phone call Mr Perry had made to his car insurer the same day he was allegedly robbed.
He said Mr Perry told the operator he wanted to cancel the insurance.
When he was asked why, he said he had sold the vehicle.
Mr Lewis said Mr Perry was offered $656.49 for a refund on the policy.
Mr Perry explained his actions saying his ex-partner was an insurance broker and he took advice that if he was still named as the policy holder he would be liable for any damage done to or by the vehicle.
Mr Lewis also questioned Mr Perry's level of fear, showing the court a Facebook post made later in the evening of the alleged robbery.
It showed Mr Perry had completed a client's tattoo that afternoon and he seemed happy with it.
Mr Lewis said none of the threats allegedly made by Wintle had actually occurred and that Wintle had paid him $6500, which Mr Perry denied.
Mr Perry's former tattoo apprentice Shane Jorgensen also took the stand as he had been at the store when Wintle initially arrived on December 3 and he was there when they returned from Kunda Park.
He said Mr Perry looked angry and agitated when he came back to the shop with Wintle.
Mr Jorgensen said he believed Mr Perry had completed a whole tattoo on the afternoon after the alleged robbery.
Car dealership owner Matthew Street also gave evidence, saying he paid Wintle $8000 for the car.
Mr Street said there was nothing untoward about the deal.
Wintle was next to take the stand, giving evidence on previous convictions he had for assault, drug, weapons and obstructing police offences.
Mr Lewis told the jury he wanted them to know of his client's criminal history to show that despite his affiliation with the Rebels, Wintle had no serious convictions.
He said Wintle was no longer a Rebels member and his gang tattoos had been changed.
Wintle recalled speaking to Mr Perry about the car.
"Originally he said he want 20 grand for it, which was ridiculous," Wintle said.
He said after the test drive he negotiated with Mr Perry.
"I beat him down on the price and then asked him if he wanted to follow me back out to my place."
Wintle said it was on the drive back to Marcoola that Mr Perry pulled over and counted the $6,500 cash.
"He didn't want anyone knowing how much I paid for it."
Wintle denied making any threats.
Mr Stark questioned Wintle on his convictions and also on his recollection of how he came to know the car was for sale.
Wintle said he bought and sold vehicles as a side interest and had bought many vehicles since the 2014 incident.
Mr Stark asked him how many BMW sedans he had purchased for $6500.
Wintle replied "none", before correcting himself to say "one".
The trial continues.