Man bashed in gang feud

A SUPPORTER of accused bikie gunman Grant Welsh has had both legs broken and his skull fractured in a vicious attack which police say is another act of retribution in a tit-for-tat internal feud involving the Gladiators.

Peter Bell, 42, needed emergency surgery in John Hunter Hospital yesterday after being set on by a mob armed with steel baseball bats at East Maitland on Thursday night.

Mr Bell, a former member of the Maitland chapter of the Gladiators, was bashed on the street after his 1992 Holden Barina was rammed by a Ford Falcon as he drove along Chisholm Road at about 9.30pm.

It followed Mr Bell attending court proceedings involving Mr Welsh, another former Gladiator who is in custody charged with the attempted murder of current Maitland chapter president Frank Van Der Kroft in July. Police allege that Mr Welsh, the chapter’s former sergeant-at-arms who fell out with the club earlier this year, had vowed payback against members of the Gladiators who bashed him at a hotel a month before Mr Van Der Kroft was shot.

‘‘If you are a Gladiator or an ex-Gladiator I would be concerned [at the moment],’’ Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector John Zdrilic said yesterday.

‘‘But if you are not affiliated with the Gladiators you will be fine.’’ 

There is no suggestion Mr Van Der Kroft was involved in the assault on Mr Bell.

The Sydney-based gangs squad and detectives from Strike Force Nevarda, which was set up to investigate Mr Van Der Kroft’s shooting, have been briefed on Thursday night’s bashing.

Police said Mr Bell was targeted near the intersection of Mitchell and Worcester drives when the Ford rammed his car from behind. The force of the impact spun his car around before two men got out of the Ford and starting bashing him.

Police also believe several other people, travelling in a light coloured sedan, may have become involved in the assault.

Mr Bell was left seriously injured and lying on the road before he was helped by residents as paramedics were called.

He suffered suspected fractures to both legs and a compressed fracture of the skull and was due to be in the John Hunter Hospital operating theatre yesterday.

Detective Inspector Zdrilic said police would not tolerate a continued escalation of violence between rival factions of the  chapter.

‘‘Irrespective of who you are, if you commit violent offences in this area we will investigate you and charge you,’’ he said.  

‘‘That type of behaviour in our community is unacceptable.’’

WAR:  Maitland Gladiators chapter president Frank Van Der Kroft after the shooting.

WAR: Maitland Gladiators chapter president Frank Van Der Kroft after the shooting.

The man accused of shooting Mr Van Der Kroft in July.

The man accused of shooting Mr Van Der Kroft in July.


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