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Bikie gang turf war speculation "premature" says top cop

CORDONED OFF: The remains of the Nomads clubhouse in Byron Bay.
CORDONED OFF: The remains of the Nomads clubhouse in Byron Bay. Christian Morrow

SPECULATION a turf war between bikie gangs was behind a blaze that destroyed two businesses and gutted the Nomads Byron Bay clubhouse is premature, police have said.

While declining to rule out the possibility, Tweed Byron police Detective Superintendent Stuart Wilkins said police were treating the fire as suspicious but rejected suggestions of a push across the border by Queensland-based outlaw motorcycle gangs.

"It would be premature to say this is OMCG related or there's a turf war going on," Det Supt Wilkins said said.

"We are always concerned about retaliation from OMCG's, but it's far too early to suggest this was from another OMCG group or what the reason for the fire was."

Det Supt Wilkins also ruled out a link between the fire and a drive-by shooting at Banora Point a few hours before the fire.

Flames roaring seven metres high illuminated the night sky when firefighters arrived to extinguish a blaze at the Nomads Byron Bay clubhouse early yesterday morning.

NSW Fire and Rescue inspector Phil Sheedy said brigades from Byron Bay, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads and Lismore, as well as the Goonellabah Hazmat unit, responded to reports of the fire at 3.30am on Monday.

Mr Sheedy said the fire, which destroyed the 15mx15m brick and tile industrial unit on Brigantine St, was extinguished by 8.40am and then handed over to police as a crime scene.

"It's basically been started by putting a whole heap of magazines and books, and then using accelerant, probably petrol, to light the front of the Nomads club up," Mr Sheedy told Macquarie Radio yesterday morning.

The owner of nearby furniture business Emporia Victoria, John Manning, said there were Nomads members at the unit regularly, but they had never caused any trouble.

Mr Manning said most of his stock was not damaged in the fire.

"The fire has come through to our unit a little bit and the water has come through and damaged some of our stock," he said.

"It was well known that it was the Nomads in that unit."

"We haven't seen any hint of trouble before this."

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which also gutted an adjoining storage unit and a sign-writing business.

Det Supt Wilkins dismissed rumours the Black Uhlans OMCG were coming to Byron Bay and other gangs were coming south across the border.

He said a licensing application at Byron Bay connected to the Black Uhlans was rejected last year.

"There is no other information or intelligence that any OMCG's are moving over the border."

"We keep a very close eye on these people, not only the Nomads, the Odin's Warriors and the Mongols."

"We keep a very close eye on them and it doesn't concern me."

The fire destroyed two adjoining units and police are appealing for witnesses.

"We're certainly going to look at every avenue we can with the assistance of those that were the victims of this fire."

"There are two other premises destroyed because of this fire, so we will do our best to resolve this issue.

Anyone with any information about the fire is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Topics:  bikies nomads outlaw motocrycle gangs



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