Bikie link to murder case: two to stand trial

TWO Mount Gambier men charged with murder were allegedly paid $5000 each to abduct an ice dealer on the Nelson bridge and hand him over to bikies.

Mark Moreland, 35, and Christopher Tippens, 29, have been charged with the murder of Gordon Hamm, 34, and Tai Thorp is charged with assisting offenders after a murder. 

Yesterday magistrate Michael Coghlan committed Mr Moreland and Mr Tippens to stand trial. 

Their cases were adjourned until a directions hearing in the Melbourne Supreme Court at 9.30am on March 19.

Both men pleaded not guilty. They did not apply for bail.

The magistrate said Mr Moreland and Mr Tippens were the last persons known to be with Mr Hamm.

He said Mr Hamm was heard screaming and was beaten at the hands of Mr Moreland and/or Mr Tippens and then became silent. 

Mr Coghlan said Mr Hamm had not been seen since, there was no record he now existed and it was open to a jury to find Mr Hamm had been killed.

Samantha Porter gave evidence this week she was driving Mr Hamm from Portland to Mount Gambier in the early hours of Wednesday, July 17 last year when her car was blocked by two four-wheel-drive vehicles on the Nelson bridge.

She said two men approached her car and forcibly removed Mr Hamm at gunpoint before one started bashing Mr Hamm with the butt of a rifle. 

Ms Porter identified the men as Mr Moreland and Mr Tippens. At the time she was going out with Mr Tippens’ brother Mark.

In witness statements tendered to the court and obtained by The Standard, Mount Gambier man Ricky Noonan said he spoke to Chris Tippens about what had happened to Mr Hamm.

“I said, ‘what’s going on?’ and that’s when he said ‘me and Fred were given five grand ($5000) to take Gordon to the people that he owed 45 grand ($45,000) to’. I said ‘who’s that?’ He said ‘The Finks’.

“I then asked Chris ‘is Gordon dead or not?’ Chris said ‘I don’t know, we handed him over but I’d dare say you wouldn’t be seeing him again’.”

Evidence tendered to the court indicated that Mr Hamm owed drug debts to at least three groups of people — $45,000 to The Finks outlawed motorcycle gang, $80,000 to a three-man syndicate run by a man named Timmy and $12,000 to a New Zealander.

Mr Noonan said in another conversation, Mr Tippens said he believed Mr Hamm was killed or he would have heard from him.

In evidence yesterday, brothers Matt and Jacob De Haan said they were staying in Nelson on a fishing trip  on July 17 last year and heard a sound like a woman screaming and a gunshot.

They described a white four-wheel-drive chasing someone in a park area near the bridge before loading the person in a car and driving off. They found a rifle butt, ugg boots and a lighter and saw droplets of blood.

Nelson park ranger Daniel Sullivan said he rang 000 after hearing an incident on the Nelson bridge about 4.15am. 

“I heard definite thuds, which sounded like a person being beaten. It did not sound like a fist fight. As the beating progressed, the screams from the male victim became less and less,” he said.

“I was concerned for his welfare. I would say that I heard about a dozen or more thuds, it was a terrible beating,” he said.

Mr Coghlan will decide this morning whether to commit Mr Thorp to stand trial.

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