Discover more from Murray Bridge News
Showdown on Bridge Street: Retired policeman recalls bikie stand-off in Murray Bridge
On Australia Day at Tailem Bend, Barry Lewis told a gripping tale of a showdown he had with the president of a bikie club in Murray Bridge in 2002. This is that story.
This post was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled posts are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.
A retired SA Police Superintendent has recalled a frightening encounter he had with a former Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club president during an Australia Day speech at Tailem Bend.
Barry Lewis had a distinguished 53-year career in SAPOL and was the commander of an area spanning the Glen Osmond toll gate to Karoonda between 2000 and 2002.
He was the guest speaker at Tailem Bend’s Australia Day ceremony on Thursday.
In January 2002, he recalled, a bikie had allegedly assaulted a police officer in a pub in Robe.
The incident led to the police intercepting around 50 bikies at Meningie and issuing fines and making arrests.
Unfortunately, a police officer took away one of the bikies’ “colours”, which Mr Lewis knew was a big taboo.
Colours are the patches motorcycle club members wear to identify themselves as club members, and clubs can punish their members for losing their colours.
In spite of disapproval from some colleagues, Mr Lewis insisted on returning the removed colours to the club.
A High Noon-style showdown then followed in central Murray Bridge, with a group of Gypsy Jokers gathered in the Bridgeport Hotel and police waiting on the other side of Bridge Street.
When he wanted to negotiate, bikie club president Steve Williams would walk to a point in the street to meet Mr Lewis.
Mr Lewis told Williams that he would return the colours to the club, but they were in Adelaide and would take around half an hour to arrive.
Mr Lewis had organised for a helicopter to deliver the colours to Murray Bridge.
Before the colours arrived, Williams wandered onto the street again to speak to Mr Lewis.
Williams, who Mr Lewis said was six foot six tall, threatened him by saying, “How would you feel if I ripped your badges off you?”
Mr Lewis pointed to two police standing by a car nearby.
“See those two men over there?” he asked.
“I’ve told them that if anything happens to me, you’re the first one to go down.”
He hadn’t done any such thing – but the bluff worked.
Williams said, “All right,” and walked away.
The colours were returned, and a potential bloodbath was avoided.
Mr Lewis admitted on Thursday that he had been terrified by the confrontation.
In 2005, according to media reports, Williams disappeared after a meeting at the Gepps Cross Hotel and has not been heard from since.
Mr Lewis has been a football umpire for around 50 years and said he was widely respected for his fair and reasonable approach to both policing and umpiring.
At some point after the Murray Bridge standoff, even Williams supposedly defended Mr Lewis to another bikie, saying, “He’s all right.”
Your support helps Murray Bridge News tell important local stories – subscribe today.