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Police to speak up for Tramps

Published in All News and General News

TWO retired senior police officers are supporting legal action by four members of the Wangaratta-based Tramps Motorcycle Club to regain their firearms licences.

Former chief superintendent of the Hume region, Doug McPhie and former detective sergeant Gary Thayer have provided statements to solicitor John Suta, who is representing the Tramps.

Both say in their time as police they never had any problems with Tramps members, who were highly regarded in their community.

The statements have been provided for a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing starting in Melbourne next Tuesday with both Mr McPhie and Mr Thayer expected to give evidence.

County Court judge and VCAT vice-president Marilyn Harbison will preside over the hearing.

In 2012 nine Tramps members had their legally stored guns confiscated and their firearms licences suspended.

They sought to take legal action over the suspensions, but on the eve of an interim Supreme Court hearing in Wangaratta the licences were cancelled by the Police Chief Commissioner.

Appeals by eight Tramps members went to the Firearms Appeals Committee in July last year with seven rejected.

Businessman Craig Norton, who resigned from the Tramps after his licence was cancelled, had his appeal upheld.

Mr Suta then launched action in VCAT on behalf of Ron Harding, Michael Oxenham, Mal Dinsdale and David Winzer against the Firearms Appeals Committee and Police Chief Commissioner.

Mr McPhie moved to Wangaratta in 1996 as police superintendent and subsequently worked as chief superintendent for the Hume region.

He said he had became aware of the Tramps as part of his duties and was told there was nothing to be concerned about with the group.

There was never any information about illegal activity such as drug trafficking, intimidation, assaults, other criminal activity or disputes with other clubs, he said.

“The general reputation of the Tramps was that of ‘good blokes’,” Mr McPhie says.

“They have the reputation of being local fathers and grandfathers who share a common ground of friendship and love of motorcycles.”

Mr Thayer said no community member had ever spoken to him about being fearful of the Tramps.

“The Tramps members mostly have jobs, they are social and they are family orientated,” he said.

“I remember that a daughter of a deceased member of the Victoria Police in Wangaratta died and the Tramps were pall bearers at the funeral.

“I have never been aware of any alleged criminal activity.”

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