EXTORTION: The bikie and the businessman

A PROMINENT Albury-Wodonga businessman with terminal cancer has been charged with arranging for an outlaw motorcycle gang member to threaten to assault and demand property from a Huon man.

Vyvyan Derek Weatherall, 80, formerly owner of Elgin’s Hotel and owner of Weatherall Masonry, and Darren Phillip Tucker, 28, of Wodonga, were each charged on Saturday with two counts of extortion.

Both were bailed and appeared in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Tuesday for a filing hearing where the case was adjourned for a further hearing on April 10.

They are alleged to have arranged for Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang member Jye Douglas Carter, 35, formerly of Albury and now of Wheelers Hill in Melbourne, to threaten to assault a Huon man to obtain property on November 21.

Police said the Huon man, 46, was confronted at the front gate to his Murray Valley Highway property as he drove into his driveway.

It is alleged threats to assault and damage his property were made against the Huon man before he was punched through the open car window several times causing permanent facial injuries.

Police believed the alleged attacker was acting as a “standover” man for someone else.

Wodonga detectives and investigators from Echo Taskforce, established to probe bikie gangs in Victoria, arrested and charged Carter last Thursday in Melbourne.

He was charged with two counts of extortion, recklessly causing serious injury, intentionally causing injury and making threats to damage property.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Wodonga Detective Leading Sen-Constable Andrew Leonard said the alleged incident was an irregular occurrence in the North East.

“It’s conduct we’ll go to great lengths to ensure doesn’t continue,” Sen-Constable Leonard said.

“People shouldn’t be considering taking things into their own hands.

“Regardless of the participants or the nature of the organisation involved, it’s illegal, it’s frowned upon and we do not like to see these type of incidents take place locally or anywhere.”

On Tuesday The Border Mail had a notice announcing Weatherall’s son, Tom Weatherall, as new licensee and sole principal of Elgin’s.

Tom Weatherall yesterday said the change in licensee was more about his father’s deteriorating health and not the charges laid against him.

He said his father had terminal cancer. 

“The matter that you’re inquiring to is a court matter and, of course, I’m not going to make any comment on a matter that’s currently before the court,” he said.

“In relation to the transfer of licence, that’s more of an issue in relation to an 80-year-old man who is extremely unwell, so it’s appropriate at this stage that we change licensees.”

Vyvyan Weatherall was contacted for a comment but declined to do so.

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