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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Australia - Gunman 'was taking shots at strip club'

BY: Tony Bartlett
A gunman was taking pot shots at a strip club where he used to work when an innocent bystander was shot on the Gold Coast, a court has been told.
Rick Elmasri, 34, was refused bail when he faced the Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday charged over the shooting of Hylton Miller on The Esplanade in Surfers Paradise on December 4.
The Pacific Pines car yard owner is facing one charge of grievous bodily harm, one of unlawful possession of a weapon, and two of dangerous conduct with a weapon.
Advertisement: Story continues below Defence lawyers told the court Elmasri was innocent, and a car dealer associate, being stood over by an outlaw motorcycle gang, was the real shooter.
But police prosecutor Sergeant Peta Eyschen said Elmasri was responsible for shooting Mr Miller, 42, as he walked with his family at the popular tourist spot.
She alleged he was also responsible for another indiscriminate shooting that saw a Parkwood house fired on from across a busy road on November 6.
No one was hurt but the bullet recovered from the home's living room was a perfect ballistic match to the bullet surgeons removed from Mr Miller's body, Sgt Eyschen told the court.
"The fact there is no motive for these shootings makes the offending even worse and puts every member of the public at risk," she told the court in opposing bail.
"No firearm has been found and Mr Elmasri may still have access to that weapon so there is no way to guarantee the safety of the public."
She said Elmasri had been drinking on the afternoon of December 4 before going with his girlfriend to a high rise apartment in Ferny Avenue in the heart of Surfers Paradise.
Sgt Eyschen told the court Elmasri fired two shots in the direction of the Hollywood Showgirls and Lounge Bar, in Orchid Avenue, one block east of the apartment building.
One of the shots kept going and hit Mr Miller a further block east as he walked on The Esplanade.
The shooting has left Mr Miller in an induced coma after the bullet pierced his arm and lodged in his torso. He remains in the Gold Coast Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
"He remains in an extremely serious condition and his survival cannot be guaranteed," Sgt Eyschen told the court. "He's undergoing operations every second day to combat infection and remains on life support."
Sgt Eyschen claimed that while in the apartment, Elmasri patted the back of his pants indicating he had a gun and pointed towards the club where he used to work.
With a hand gesture, he then pretended to fire a shot at the venue and allegedly said to his friend: "Imagine doing that."
Police allege Elmasri pulled out a .45 calibre handgun and fired two shots in the club's direction about 9pm (AEST) before picking up the empty shell casings from the balcony and leaving.
CCTV cameras captured him leaving the Circle on Cavill apartment building at 9.09pm, police say.
The court was told that the bullet removed from Mr Miller's body was a .45 calibre projectile commonly used in automatic weapons.
Elmasri's solicitor Damon Locantro told the court his client should be granted bail and police had the wrong man.
He said it was Elmasri's car dealer friend who fired the shots from the apartment building on December 4.
Elmasri's associate was in fear of his life after being threatened by members of an outlaw motorcycle gang who wanted money from him, Mr Locantro said.
"He (the associate) has a motive to carry a firearm for protection," he said.
"It was my client's associate who discharged the firearm. My client became concerned after the weapon was discharged and left the premises."Mr Locantro said Elmasri's associate had consumed large quantities of marijuana and cocaine before the shooting, and his client was innocent.
Magistrate Michael O'Driscoll refused bail, saying the shootings were indiscriminate and in one instance had a catastrophic result.
He remanded Elmasri in custody to reappear in court on January 21. Elmasri did not enter a plea.