Two men accused of being involved in the shooting murder of a former bikie boss in Sydney’s south are linked by DNA to a getaway car which was discovered with a balaclava inside, a jury has been told.
Mahmoud “Mick” Hawi, 37, a former national president of the Comancheros, was shot multiple times in the head, face and shoulder as he sat in the driver’s seat of his black Mercedes outside Fitness First in Rockdale on February 15, 2018. He died in hospital later that day.
On Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Lou Lungo told a NSW Supreme Court murder trial that circumstantial evidence points to the shooter being Mr Hawi’s former friend Yusuf Nazlioglu, 38, while the driver of the getaway car is alleged to be Jamal Eljaidi, 32.
Both men have been charged with murder and both have pleaded not guilty.
Mr Lungo said Mr Hawi had just left Fitness First and climbed into his car, which was parked directly outside the gym door, when a gunman wearing either a balaclava or hoodie ran up to him and fired multiple shots through the open window.
The prosecutor said the gunman and the getaway driver fled in a silver-grey Mercedes, which was then set alight nearby, before they changed to a second getaway car, a silver Toyota Aurion.
A month after the shooting, police canvassing for CCTV footage in Rosebery noticed a parked Toyota Aurion with no number plates and peered inside, discovering a black balaclava in the footwell of the front passenger seat.
Mr Lungo said testing of the car’s interior came back with “DNA consistent with the accused, Mr Nazlioglu, and the accused Mr Eljaidi”, while testing of the balaclava showed “gunshot residue-like particles which supported firearm association” and DNA consistent with Mr Nazlioglu.
“The Crown case is Mr Nazlioglu was the shooter and at the time was wearing that balaclava,” Mr Lungo said.
The prosecutor said Mr Nazlioglu and Mr Hawi were once close friends but their relationship had soured after a fishing trip to the Central Coast, which might provide a motive for his alleged involvement.
Mr Lungo said Mr Hawi would not be put forward in the trial as “a model citizen” and it may be suggested “that a number of people other than these accused had a reason to kill him”.
Mr Nazlioglu’s barrister, Avni Djemal, said the main issue in the trial was that his client was “not the shooter” and did not have a motive for wanting Mr Hawi dead. He said it was not disputed that the men were friends who had fallen out.
Mr Djemal said the only time his client came into contact with the Toyota was two days after the shooting.
Barrister David Dalton, SC, for Mr Eljaidi, said there was a “paucity of evidence in the Crown case” to implicate his client as the driver of either car, and it was impossible to determine the time DNA was deposited in any place.
He said his client was not suggested to have a motive, and witness descriptions were inconsistent with Mr Eljaidi being an offender.
The jury heard Mr Hawi was the national president of the Comancheros until 2009.
Giving evidence, his widow Carolina Gonzales said Mr Hawi had been approached by unknown Comancheros in the weeks leading up to his death, but she had no knowledge of whether he was “building up” associates with a view to becoming involved with the group again.
She denied her husband was involved in the business of extortion or “wanting money off people for favours” and said he was involved in construction.
Ms Gonzales denied that her husband demanded $500,000 from a property developer, Eddie Haragli, or sent an associate to his door to scare him. She said Mr Haragli, her husband’s friend, “offered” to give the money to him.
She agreed she went to Mr Haragli’s home on the night of her husband’s death and threatened to kill him, but said she was “angry” and didn’t mean it.
Mr Djemal said Ms Gonzales made the threat “because you thought he had something to do with your husband, because your husband was trying to extort half a million dollars”.
Ms Gonzales denied this, telling the jury she made the threat because she believed one of Mr Haragli’s relatives was part of the motive for Mr Nazlioglu’s alleged involvement in the murder.
She agreed there had been an “ongoing dispute” between her husband and Mark Buddle, who sent a message declaring himself to be the leader of the Comancheros, but said the dispute was “not bikie-related”.
The trial continues.
Georgina Mitchell is a court reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.