Bikie boss jailed for 11 years after running illegal drug ring says sentence was too harsh

A Queensland bikie boss who was jailed for 11 years over his violent control of a drug trafficking operation has sought to appeal his sentence, claiming it was manifestly excessive.

Aug 30, 2023, updated Aug 30, 2023
Former bikie boss and drug dealer Ian Ronald Crowden. (Image; ABC, Tom Forbes)

Former bikie boss and drug dealer Ian Ronald Crowden. (Image; ABC, Tom Forbes)

Ian Ronald Crowden, 48, pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court in May last year to 14 charges including extortion, drug trafficking, assault occasioning bodily harm, participating in a criminal organisation and threatening violence.

The court heard Crowden was the “conductor and the orchestrator” of the bikie gang, recruiting members to do his bidding and ordering or personally delivering brutal beatings to keep them in line.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday heard an application by Crowden for leave to appeal against his sentence.

At the start of proceedings, Justice John Bond said it might be necessary for Crowden’s barrister Michael Copley KC to warn his client that his challenging the legitimacy of the sentencing judge’s decisions could result in a longer jail term.

“It’s difficult to predict where it might end up,” Justice Bond said.

Mr Copley said his complaint was that the jail term imposed for the drug trafficking charge, which formed the basis for his client’s total sentence, was manifestly too long.

“The trafficking persisted for only six weeks and on a reading of the facts, the trafficking was not the most serious offending; the most serious offending was the vicious assault,” Mr Copley said.

That assault involved Crowden and his associates being hired several years ago to attack a man who was left to this day suffering post traumatic stress and financial loss.

Mr Copley said Crowden should not have been jailed for five years for running a brief trafficking operation that yielded him a 10 per cent share of the profits from dealing small amounts of the drug MDMA at a nightclub owned by the group and suggested three-and-a-half years instead.

Justice Peter Flanagan asked if the appeal, if successful, would affect the sentencing judge’s declaration that Crowden was a serious violent offender.

Mr Copley agreed it would affect the declaration, which if it stands will require Crowden to serve 80 per cent of his jail term before being eligible for parole.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis said the sentencing judge had taken Crowden’s wider criminal activity into account in relation to the drug trafficking charge including his violent takeover of the drug business that preceded his six-month period as its leader.

“In (the judge’s) view it would be an affront to the community to have a sentence of less than 10 years,” Ms Dennis said.

Ms Dennis said Crowden should serve between 10 to 12 years and complete 80 per cent of that time in custody before being eligible for parole.

“There is nothing in the material that would support that the sentence imposed on the trafficking offences was manifestly excessive,” she said.

The Court of Appeal has adjourned to await transcripts and consider the application.

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