'Nothing to hide' Bikie demands police apology after funeral


  • Police say four people who attended the funeral were charged with drug driving before and after the service
  • Police say no Black Uhlan M.C. members -- the group involved -- will be charged under Queensland's anti-bikie VLAD laws
  • It was a funeral for James John Gurney Henzell, who took his own life
  • Weeks before his death, he described how he wanted to be farewelled by his 'brothers', wearing their 'colours'

UPDATE: 8:20am: 

A SOMBRE sounding Black Uhlans Sergeant at Arms, Chris Hawes, was moved by the support he has received.

"I am surprised by how many people expressed their opinions," he said.

"I have no idea who a lot of them were."

>>Bikie tells cops to rebel, 'apologise' for crashing funeral

James Henzell's funeral: Police watch over funeral of Calliope man with connections to an outlaw motorcycle gang, Black Uhllans M.C.
James Henzell's funeral: Police watch over funeral of Calliope man with connections to an outlaw motorcycle gang, Black Uhllans M.C.

Mr Hawes said he would continue to demand for an apology from Gladstone police after up to 30 police blocked roads and conducted drug and drink driving tests on a bikie-led funeral procession on Friday.

"We were told we would be left alone as long as we didn't wear our colours at GPC social club," he said.

"There's nothing illegal about wearing my colours, it's me that's illegal.

"I obviously have nothing to hide," he said.

James Henzell's funeral Friday, May 20.
James Henzell's funeral Friday, May 20.

Mr Hawes said as far as he knew only one man was charged with drug driving, while others had been detained and let go.

But a police spokesperson said four people had been charged.

"I'm a big believer in giving everyone a fair go," he said.

"I'm not blaming all police. But I expect from police to put their hand up and say: 'we got this one wrong," he said.


No charges will be laid against Black Uhlan M.C. members who attended a funeral on Friday to honour James John Gurney Henzell.

POLICE RESPOND: 'Drug driving': Police reveal details of arrests at man's funeral

The Commander of Taskforce Maxima Detective Superintendent Michael Niland said members did not contravene Queensland anti-bikie VLAD laws, introduced by the Newman government in 2013.

On Friday up to 30 police officers - made up of Gladstone Police and Taskforce Maxima - blocked roads around the parklands, conducted roadside drug tests and watched on during the funeral service.

"At most of these funerals the procession is being led by two outlaw motorcycle gang members in colours and this was the case [on Friday]," Det Niland said, although those riding in the procession have disputed this fact.

Having assisted regional police in around eight funeral processions involving outlaw bikies across the state and similar to the one held by the Black Uhlans M.C. on Friday, Det Niland said funerals were "tricky" for police.

"We try to protect the sanctity of the occasion and try to give as much leeway as we can," he said.

Taskforce Maxima confirmed it sent two road traffic police to assist Gladstone police who were already there.

"We don't believe it was [an] excessive [show of force]," Det Niland said. "We only sent two members of Maxima at the time and as a result six offenders were caught drug driving."

A statement from Queensland Police said four people had been charged with drug driving.

"Police did not disrupt the funeral procession or burial proceedings," a QPS spokesperson said.

Det Niland said police had received "intelligence" before the procession took place and had made contact with the "persons responsible for conducting the procession on the day".


THE brother-in-law of a man who was buried on Friday is expecting to be arrested today. The Sergeant at Arms for the outlaw motorcycle gang Gladstone Black Uhlans M.C., Chris Hawes, was one of a handful of members who defied anti-association laws to carry out the funeral request of his wife's brother James John Gurney Henzell.

Although James Henzell, 32, was not a club member, just weeks before he took his own life, he described how he wanted to be farewelled --- by his 'brothers', wearing their 'colours'.

His funeral was held on Friday, for 300 guests, at the Boyne Tannum Memorial Parklands.

Chris Hawes, riding with his young nephew, lead a procession of motorcycles for the service.

Acting under the strict VLAD laws introduced by the Newman government, however, up to 30 police officers blocked roads around the parklands, conducted roadside drug tests and watched on during the funeral service.

Cars, including the one carrying James' widow, were also stopped by police.

Queensland Police did not provide a comment yesterday.

Queensland's anti-bikie VLAD laws introduced in 2013 include legislation preventing three or more members of bikie gangs from being in the same place, at the same time.

The laws labelled 26 gangs across the state including the Black Uhlans M.C. as 'criminal'.

The laws are currently under review and the anti-association laws are expected to be rewritten by the Labor State Government.

But until any new laws come into effect, the existing legislation applies.

Today, as Chris Hawes waits for a familiar police knock on his door for behaviour he knew was in defiance of the VLAD laws, he is calling for an apology to the family from Queensland Police.

Chris Hawes, Gladstone Sergeant at Arms, Black Uhlans M.C.
Chris Hawes, Gladstone Sergeant at Arms, Black Uhlans M.C.

He says the police presence on Friday was unfair and unnecessary.

He says he sought out Gladstone police ahead of time to discuss the funeral plans and was left with the impression police had agreed to observe from a distance.

"You expect to be left alone on a day like that," Mr Hawes said.

"I know James would want me to make a point of this. (The police) got it wrong, so wrong. I'd like an apology for the family - not for my benefit, I know what they think of me - but his grieving family didn't deserve that. I am expecting them to come arrest me under the association laws because I did give my brothers a hug at the crematorium. We did stand in the same room."

If arrested, charged and convicted, Mr Hawes and his fellow members could face six months behind bars.

An extract from Chris Hawes' open letter to Queensland Police:

A discussion was made to communicate with the QPS about the procession as I knew alot of bikes would be attending.

Unfortunately this is not the first time this decision turned out to be the wrong one at the end of the day.

James, my brother in law and I had a discussion regarding funeral wishes a few weeks ago and he asked that my brothers and I wear our club colours and lead the possession doubling his sons.

James Henzell
James Henzell

Of course I said yes, I'd be honoured (not realizing the significance of our conversation that night).

I am a man of my word. Its a shame the QPS (isn't)... Not the first time they haven't.

He was a proud supporter of my club. Black Uhlans M.C. Australia.

He was a supporter of a lot of clubs. He attended many charity rides with many clubs...

If you would like the names and details of who I think you should approach and apologize to please contact me.

(It was) a funeral for crying out loud...

How you reacted on Facebook:

Laura Thompson It's not often I speak out about the police force as I try and understand that the one's the public see are merely following instructions from the hierarchy whom are following instructions from the government whom are elected by the people. ( Not so true in recent years) Today while some dear friends were trying to bury a loved one, was a completely different story the QPS set up shop outside the Boyne Cemetery and the Clinton Cemetery. Pulling over and finding faults with those on motorcycles and running rego and license checks on others including myself and other family and friends..... Young children were burying their dad, it wasn't black market gun trade, people smugglers or drug exports it was a funeral. An ordinary Aussie family were laying to rest a loved one. The QPS had no right to pay such negative attention at the service then the burial grounds. Seems like you have to be an Islamic Ideologist these day's to get any respect from any Government Agency that us, the hard working people of the community pay for. Where's human equality gone? Am I actually living in a country town of Australia? Where's the democracy in this situation? My personal opinion is probably worth nothing and thats cool but when it matches those of many others I think there's a problem. QPS apologize to the poor family involved and let James Henzell Rest In Peace. He was tormented by life, please don't make his passing any harder for him or those grieving.

Justin Bullock I have never been or associated with any motor cycle gangs in my life I had never met Chris Hawes before James was a mate and Chris is his brother In law our paths crossed on a very sad occasion one night and I can tell u all I met a very compassionate caring person who not only cared for my well being but many others while dealing with this tragedy himself I rode with Chris in front with no colours so I'm not sure where the two patched members came from chris u showed me loyalty and respect I thank u mate wish certain others had done the same RIP JIMMY xx

Debbie Schulze I am so [disgusted] with the police... they turned my sons funeral into a police circus where is our apologies

Lea Lee The VLAD laws are against the basic rights of the UN Queensland should hang their heads in shame

Chris Hawes This is your response to our family? You the QPS think that this is a appropriate response to all James' family, friends & workmates? Are you trying to say that all the details that countless people have provided about the day are false? Do the opinions of so many mean so little to you? Intimidating, bullying, standing over mourning citizens. Interrupting a day such as a funeral. Come on. You held his widow and his sister on the side of the road with his 1 yr old daughter in the car 500m from the start of the service while you questioned them along with countless others. I know of 1 mourning person done for a positive dope test. Id like to know were you get 6 from for a start. Let me get back to you on this but if your asking me you still haven't got this matter right QPS. A apology is what is needed. Not more excuses. Can anyone who attended on the day please add what they witnessed in the comments section in the article if you don't mind. Or anyone who has a opinion on the behavior shown by the people who are paid by us to protect and serve us. Pls comment

Allie Wilson QPS should be ashamed of themselves for there actions. The way they conducted themselves on Friday was disgusting. As someone who attended this funeral I was appalled at the harassment given by the QPS on such a day.. Shame on you QPS shame on you.