Australia - TWO members of the outlawed Nomads motorcycle gang, including the alleged vice-president of the gang's Parramatta chapter, are to launch a constitutional challenge to new "consorting" laws being used by NSW police.
Justin Hawthorne and Sleiman "Simon" Tajjour were among the very first arrests made under the new laws, which make it a crime for convicted criminals to communicate with each other.
The decision comes after the successful appeal last week of the conviction of an intellectually disabled man, Charlie Foster, 21, who had been the first man jailed under the new laws.
Simon Joyner, a lawyer representing the two alleged bikies, told a Sydney court yesterday he intended to challenge the consorting legislation itself, most likely in the state's Supreme Court.
Mr Joyner is expected to co-operate with Wayne Baffsky, a barrister who works as counsel for the Hells Angels and who successfully challenged Mr Foster's conviction.
The offence of "habitually consorting" with convicted criminals was reformed in April in response to a series of shootings across Sydney, which police allege were partly the result of a conflict between the Nomads and Hells Angels.
Specifically designed to target organised crime, the law makes it an offence punishable by up to three years in prison for criminals to communicate with each other.
NSW police see the new law as a key weapon against the bikie gangs, and have issued warnings for consorting to more than 130 people since the law was reformed. Many legal specialists and civil rights groups, however, argue that the law is potentially open to abuse.
Mr Foster, who has no link to any organised crime gang, received a 12 month sentence last month for consorting.
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