Inside story: Moment that sealed fate of former bikie mates
IT is March 2006: Notorious Gold Coast bikies Shane Bowden and Nick "the Knife" Forbes are on the run from police, wanted for questioning over the shooting and bashing of a rival gang member at the infamous Ballroom Blitz.
A number of Hells Angels were watching the kickboxing bouts at the Royal Pines Ballroom where two associates they had sponsored were fighting.
They were waiting for the main bout to begin when more than 40 Finks burst into the crowded room and moved straight to where the Hells Angels were seated.
Forbes was accused of punching former Fink turned Hells Angels rat Christopher Wayne Hudson and held him while Bowden shot him.
All up, five people were either stabbed or shot in front of 1800 people.
Forbes later claimed he challenged Hudson to fight because "Hudson had stolen from his mother, who he was very close to". Hudson had supposedly nicked a sapphire from Forbes' parents, and he intended to pawn it to fuel his drug addiction.
Hudson would be sentenced to 35 years behind bars for shooting three people in the Melbourne CBD in 2007.
Bowden and Forbes had been mates before officially joining the underworld and becoming the heart of the Finks' fearsome Terror Team.
But they had a falling out and 14 years on one is dead - shot execution-style - and the other is a prominent figure in the Mongols, the gang police believe could be behind the murder.
Detectives do not believe Forbes had anything to do with Bowden's death and Forbes' lawyer declined to comment this week. No charges have been laid.
Bowden's death has brought to an end a 20-year, rollercoaster journey from the Gold Coast underbelly to national gangland prominence. No charges have been laid.
A source spoke to the Bulletin soon after the Ballroom Blitz in 2006 about Forbes' relationship with Bowden: "He knew Shane (Bowden) before he joined the gang and Nick changed a bit after his mother died and that's when he joined the Finks, and they sort of became his family.
"He was a pretty handy boxer and he worked as a bouncer in Coolangatta for a while, then moved to some nightclubs in Surfers and worked on the doors there.''
Bowden had been out of jail only for four weeks after serving a sentence for assault.
When police swooped on the Finks clubhouse in search of those responsible for the Blitz melee, Bowden had left them a note.
"Dear Mr policemen, I'm sorry I wasn't here when you came looking for me.''
Bowden reportedly left a similar message mocking police on a telephone answering machine.
The industrial site in Labrador, which had two skulls on the gateposts and a Gold Coast City Council sign advising of a dangerous dog, was on the other side of the small street to their main clubhouse.
It had been home to Bowden at the time of the Ballroom Blitz.
The two men would hand themselves in to Surfers Paradise police two weeks apart after being on the run for more than a month.
After leaving the Southport watchhouse, Forbes had a message for the general public: "Tell them to be good to their mothers and don't join the Hells Angels.''
In 2008, Forbes, 39 at the time, pleaded guilty to assaulting Hudson while armed with a chair and in company. He committed a total of six assaults causing actual bodily harm and one of grievous bodily harm and his 18-month sentence was added to with another three and a half years.
Bowden, 36 at the time, was given a total sentence of six-and-a-half years' jail for discharging a firearm in a public place and wounding with intent to maim.
By the second half of 2011 the pair were back on the streets in Finks colours, and the bikie war was raging.
Within six months, however, Bowden would be blacklisted from the Gold Coast. The cops had had enough.
He was ordered to surrender his membership in the Finks and warned not to associate with members of any outlaw gang.
He was living in a halfway house and would remain under strict parole conditions until March 2013.
But it did not deter him. By late 2013 Bowden had turned his back on the club and, along with other members of the Terror Team, was preparing to join the US-based Mongols.
Bowden would become a sergeant-at-arms in Melbourne but was slotted for a violent aggravated burglary in 2015 he committed with former Beyonce trainer Aysen Unlu. Bowden was dressed in camouflage gear and used night goggles.
He got out in mid-June, was kicked out of the Mongols and was shot in a driveway about a month later. He fled to Queensland, was nabbed by police over a COVID border dispute, spent time in Gold Coast University Hospital for a gunshot wound, had patched back to the Finks and was eventually murdered about 12.10 on Monday morning.
A source told the Bulletin, that Bowden was "a dumb thug who was an enforcer".
"He was not a criminal mastermind."
Forbes would serve time for having another crack at the Hells Angels in a wild melee in South Australia. He was found guilty of affray over his involvement in the May 2011 brawl inside the City Nightclub in Adelaide. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years jail with a 20-month non-parole period.
The Bulletin reported that he was recruiting gang members as a head honcho of the Mongols.
"He has definitely stepped up and taken over, what that means for the Mongols, I don't know, but the next few months will be interesting," a police source told the Bulletin.
"He's idolised by these young bikies, I wouldn't be surprised if they're trying to get a stronger foothold here on the Coast."
As he walked from the Brisbane Watchhouse in May 2019, Forbes told waiting journalists that "I'll die a Mongol".
His old Terror Team mate Bowden would not be afforded the same fate.
Originally published as Inside story: Moment that sealed fate of former bikie mates