Long stint in jail coming to Wangaratta Tramps bikie boss Ronnie Harding

CLUB MAN: Tramps president Ronnie Harding during his legal battle to keep his firearms licence three years ago.

CLUB MAN: Tramps president Ronnie Harding during his legal battle to keep his firearms licence three years ago.

The leader of a now defunct Wangaratta bikie gang is facing more than a year in jail over serious drug trafficking and weapons offences.

Ronnie Harding, 52, pleaded guilty for the first time to more than 30 charges when he appeared in Wangaratta County Court on Friday.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore said the Wangaratta South man had been the focus of an investigation for two months before police raided his home and the Tramps Motorcycle Club headquarters on Frank Hayes Drive on January 6 last year.

They found chemicals such as pseudoephedrine and iodine – use to make methamphetamine – as well as lysergic acid, ketamine and cannabis.

The weapons included 14 unregistered firearms – both rifles and revolvers, some of them loaded – explosive tubes tied in bundles of three, a pen pistol, baton and pepper spray.

Eight charges related to stolen goods found at his home including a BMW X5, a boat worth $8900, generators and 17 water meters stolen from his previous employer North East Water.

“His DNA was found on most of the guns at the clubhouse and also on the pen pistol at his property,” Me Moore said.

Barrister Adam Chernok said a psychological report found Harding “was overwhelmed with personal trauma and stress” due to a separation from his wife.

He said there was a reason Judge Jim Montgomery had never heard of the Tramps, even though police would categorise the group as an outlaw motorcycle gang.

“The Tramps are not in the same sort of category as the other outlaw motorcycle gangs,” Mr Chernok said.

“They have done considerable charity work. It’s a bikie club with six members that ultimately disbanded.”

He said Harding had no criminal history and turned to drugs to self-medicate for a heart condition, arguing the man deserved a chance to turn his life around.

But Judge Montgomery agreed with Mr Moore than a jail sentence should be more than 12 months.

“It’s about time he got his life in order, he’s a bit old for that sort of stuff,” he said. “It’s just too many offences without any real explanation.”

Harding will be sentenced on Monday.

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