‘Hells Angels’ murder case fast-tracked to trial
The murder trial of eight alleged Hells Angels bikies and associates is being fast-tracked to the Supreme Court - before the state's most experienced criminal trial judge.
In a significant move, Director of Public Prosecutions Martin Hinton QC will lodge an ex officio indictment against the accused in the Supreme Court to expedite the proceedings.
The move, which will happen within a fortnight, will dispense with a lengthy committal hearing and weeks of legal argument in Adelaide Magistrates Court.
The Advertiser can also reveal Justice Trish Kelly, who will retire as President of the Court of Appeal on September 1, will preside over the case - which will be the largest murder trial ever conducted in SA.
A relatively rare legal move, the ex officio indictments can be challenged by the accused who may feel they should have had the evidence against them tested in a committal hearing, but it is understood that is unlikely in this case.
The move will ensure there will be several weeks of voir dire hearings in the Supreme Court, most likely in October, in which the evidence against each of the accused is tested and challenged by their legal teams.
A trial date has been set for late April next year with police and lawyers expecting the matter to run for up to six months.
Chief Justice Chris Kourakis confirmed to The Advertiser that he has appointed Justice Kelly, who brought forward her retirement from the COA by three months, as trial judge.
"With her early retirement she became available and she is the most experienced criminal trial judge we have,'' he said.
In a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years, Justice Kelly has sat on both the Supreme and District Court benches and was a successful prosecutor with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and South Australia's Office of the DPP.
Chief Justice Kourakis revealed tenders were about to be called for building works to significantly modify courtroom three in the Sir Samuel Way building to accommodate the eight accused and their individual legal teams.
Seven of the accused - Ross William Montgomery, 35, Daniel Mark Jalleh, 31, Musa Ali Alzuain, 27, Mohamed Alzuain, 28, Husain Ali Alzuain, 32, Kyle Lloyd Pryde, 32, and Seywan Moradi, 33 - will have their own barrister who will be instructed by at least two solicitors during the trial. The eighth, Nicholas Sianis, 33, will have just one counsel.
Prosecutors last week dropped charges of assisting an offender against a ninth man, Jake Byron Martin-Herde, 31.
The accused - all of whom are alleged to be Hells Angels members except Musa Alzuain - have engaged a slew of SA's top silks including Marie Shaw QC and Lindy Powell QC, with one hiring prominent Victorian criminal barrister Philip Dunn QC.
The DPP team is spearheaded by top criminal prosecutor Jim Pearce QC, who is assisted by senior prosecutor Rebecca Gray and solicitor Sarah Attar.
The murder charges relate to the 2012 death of panelbeater Jason De Ieso who, the prosecution will allege, was shot in the head when the eight men stormed a Pooraka business looking for a rival Finks bikie.
Police have alleged the murder was the culmination of four days of violent feuding between the Hells Angels and Finks that included a firebombing and several assaults at a tattoo parlour.
The eight men were arrested and charged in August 2019 following an 18-month covert investigation by Major Crime detectives that painstakingly reconstructed their movements leading up to the alleged murder.
In the past 20 months since the arrests there have been numerous hearings in Adelaide Magistrates Court revolving around evidence disclosure and the timing of now abandoned committal proceedings.
Chief Justice Kourakis said the modifications to courtroom three would include installing a new, expanded dock for the eight accused to occupy and redesigning the courtroom to ensure there were enough benches for the plethora of lawyers and barristers representing each of the accused.
He said while the modifications were only to one courtroom, there was capacity to stream the proceedings into another viewing area "if that was requested and if that became necessary.''
It was likely the lengthy trial would require additional sheriff's officers to deal with the number of defendants and their transport requirements from prison to the Supreme Court each day.
"Unless exceptional circumstances arise that could be any number of things, for the trial itself I would expect all of the accused to be present,'' Chief Justice Kourakis said.
"There will be preliminary hearings and they might not all be present physically, but that is a matter for them.''
While the Snowtown murders trial is likely to remain the longest in SA's history at almost 12 months, the large number of defendants and the sheer volume and complicated nature of the evidence to be heard in the De Ieso case will ensure it becomes the largest murder trial in the state's history.
Originally published as 'Hells Angels' murder case fast-tracked to trial