Bikie club leader shot in daytime attack

POLICE are investigating a Hunter bikie shooting after a high-ranking member of the Maitland Gladiators motorcycle club was shot multiple times in the chest and stomach yesterday.

It was a far cry from the streets of Sydney’s inner-west - a lone motorcycle perched on the side of a country road while its owner, Frank Van Der Kroft, was being rushed to hospital following a daytime attempt on his life.

Police from Central Hunter and Hunter Valley local area commands were jolted into action about 1.50pm yesterday after the 56-year-old, believed to be the branch president, presented himself to Cessnock Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

More than a dozen Gladiators members, dressed in full club colours, arrived at the hospital a short time later.

Police quickly worked to establish a crime scene about 20 kilometres north of the hospital on a remote section of Wine Country Drive in North Rothbury where a black motorcycle and a burnt-out car had been found.

A police spokeswoman said last night it was not known if Mr Van Der Kroft had been shot in Wine Country Drive or at another location.

What is clear is that he was picked up from the side of the road in North Rothbury, a few hundred metres south of Tuckers Lane, by a vehicle and driven to hospital.

Initial reports yesterday suggested he was in a critical condition on arrival.

But a Hunter New England Health spokesman clarified that the victim had never been considered critical.

He was listed as being in a stable condition last night and underwent surgery after being transported to John Hunter Hospital.

Police blocked both lanes of Wine Country Drive to traffic for several hours last night as crime scene officers examined and photographed the victim’s bike.

The bike and the burnt-out car were later taken by tow truck to a holding yard in Newcastle.

Police would not confirm a motive for the shooting last night or whether they believed it was the work of a rival outlaw motorcycle gang.

The incident followed several reports from motorists who told the Herald they had seen scores of outlaw motorcycle club members riding on the New England Highway yesterday.

Hunter Valley detectives are investigating the shooting and are expected to address the media today.

Police are looking for witnesses who may have been driving along Wine Country Drive yesterday, and as of last night had not received any information from the public.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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