Finks leader jailed for extortion

The County Court of Victoria. Photo: AAP Image/Con Chronis

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A high-ranked member of the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang has been jailed over the extortion, assault and robbery of a member wishing to leave the outfit.

Paul Robert “Romeo” Draper, 40, of Endeavour Hills, pleaded guilty at the Victorian County Court to robbery, common law assault, extortion with a threat to inflict injury as well as theft of a number plate and possession of steroids.

Three other full-patched Fink members Michael Bacalja, 43, of Berwick, Andrew Tonkin, 32, of Keysborough, and Allan Campbell, 30, of Endeavour Hills, were earlier sentenced to community corrections orders over the incidents.

The victim had been a fully-patched Finks member and treasurer based at the Cranbourne West clubhouse. He didn’t provide a victim impact statement.

Draper, Tonkin and Campbell barged their way into the victim’s house in Doncaster in July 2021, with Draper demanding the victim’s $60,000 2019 Harley Davidson while he was deciding whether to leave the club.

The victim pleaded for them not to take his bike and Draper assaulted him.

Campbell warned the victim that “if you call the cops, we’ll shoot you” and ordered the victim to write a note authorising the hand-over of his bike to Draper.

The victim complied and the men rode away with his bike.

A week later, after pleading for his bike’s return, the victim was told to go to Draper’s home in Endeavour Hills.

Inside the house, Draper – in company with Bacalja – told the victim that he’d have to pay $15,000 and forfeit his bike to leave the Finks.

If he didn’t sign over the bike, he would be “f***ed”, Draper told him – and the victim duly signed VicRoads transfer papers.

When he left, Draper phoned him to say he’d signed the wrong part of the form. If he didn’t come back inside, he’d be “really f***ed”.

An angry Draper punched, kicked and kneed him in what the victim said was a “really savage” beating. He was left with red marks, and a sore jaw and head, for days.

Over several weeks, the victim transferred $11,500 to Draper’s bank account, spurred by several demands from Draper via calls on encrypted app Signal.

In October, Echo Taskforce police raided the accused’s homes as well as the Cranbourne West clubhouse.

At Draper’s home, they seized the bike’s keys and registration plate as well as several steroids.

Sentencing judge Sarah Leighfield said on 10 April that Draper, who was ranked as a ‘Nomad’ at the Finks, was the “principal” offender.

She noted his limited but relevant violent history including a road-rage incident in 2011 and forcibly evicting a female flatmate.

Draper had worked 20 years in the crane industry, as well as a singer and guitarist with various bands.

The road rage assault was against a cameraman associated with a record company, which led to Draper and his band losing their record contracts.

Raised in Doveton and Hoppers Crossing, Draper was diagnosed with PTSD due to being a victim of numerous acts of violence since childhood.

Judge Leighfield said the PTSD as well as the stress from a painful neck, arm and hand condition from a car crash into a mob of kangaroos would make Draper’s time in custody more burdensome.

Despite recent surgery, he still endured pain flares and required intensive physical therapy and medication.

His guilty plea, his remorse, trial delay and his lack of subsequent offending despite continuing to be a part of the Finks were also noted.

Draper’s role and gravity of his offending meant he was required to serve jail time.

He was imprisoned for seven months, followed by a 21-month supervised community corrections order with alcohol, drug and mental health treatment.

Draper submitted against an order not to associate with the Finks, arguing that the outlaw motorcycle gang was an important support structure.

Judge Leighfield limited the non-association clause to the first nine months of the CCO.