A father who claims he joined a bikie gang to protect his daughter from a dangerous romance is facing jail time after his desperate quest ended in gunfire and a headlong flight to a hidden bush camp.
Stephen Pattman was a well-regarded landscape gardener with a security clearance that allowed him to work on national monuments.
However, he says his close-knit family was torn apart when Pattman’s then-19-year-old daughter Chloe fell in love with ACT Rebels president Ali Bilal.
Fearing the “dark cloud” that had fallen over his family, Pattman pleaded with his daughter for two years to leave the bikie world – until he was finally driven to a near-unthinkable course of action.
Pattman traded his boat for a Harley Davidson and joined the same bikie gang, with his son Chris and an illegal modified .44 Magnum revolver for back-up.
He told A Current Affair his aim was to “get (Bilal) close”.
The Pattmans were fast-tracked into the gang thanks to their connection with Chloe.
However, the world they found was nothing like they expected, Pattman said.
“I found myself in situations where I wondered, ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into?'” he said.
Pattman and his son Chris were out of their depth – and out of patience with Chloe – and after three years they decided they wanted out.
However, leaving a bikie gang is notoriously difficult, and the family’s troubles did not stop.
“We knew there was going to be repercussions, because once the patch was off our back it didn’t stop there,” he said.
Pattman alleged he was constantly harrassed by gang members and feared for his safety until he finally snapped during a violent confrontation with a man who was parked in a car outside his house on a suburban Canberra street.
“He said to me, ‘who the f— do you think you are talking to’, and I turned to the boy and said, ‘grab the cannon’,” Pattman said.
“He’s handed me the cannon and I leant back, cocked it, and leant in like that and then fired.”
Court documents state Chris Pattman handed his father the .44 Magnum, which his father then fired just centimetres away from his victim’s head.
The bullet tore through the driver headrest and out the rear passenger window.
The man in the car suffered bleeding to his ear and his hearing was temporarily impaired.
Pattman told A Current Affair that he had asked repeatedly for his family to be left alone.
“I believe if it didn’t happen that day, it would have escalated even further and kept going,” he said.
“It wasn’t going to stop.”
The gun was later found dumped in a plastic bag near a car park rubbish bin.
Meanwhile, Pattman and his son fled into hiding.
The pair set up a secret caravan camp in a national park, where they lived for 12 months before believing it was safe to emerge.
Despite blaming Ali Bilal for their living circumstances in this time, Pattman had no evidence the Rebels boss or any gang members wanted to harm him, and neither A Current Affair or 9news.com.au are suggesting this is the case.
Pattman has pleaded guilty to an act of endangering life and unauthorised use of a prohibited firearm.
Criminal lawyer Ljupka Subeska told A Current Affair Pattman would be facing months and possibly years of jail time.
Pattman, meanwhile, claimed spoken more recently with his daughter’s partner Bilal.
He said Bilal claimed to have handed in his own Rebels patch and left the gang, but that he and Chloe had cemented their relationship with an unofficial sharia law marriage ceremony.
“(Bilal) claims he is out of that lifestyle now, and I hope he is true to his word because I do and did fear for my daughter’s life being around that scene,” Pattman said.
For himself, despite having gained a criminal record, Pattman said he would do it all again.
But he said he was ready to put the past behind him as much as he could.
“I’ve been angry for a long time but I’m sick of being angry,” he said.
Pattman is due to be sentenced next month for his role in the shooting. Bilal has confirmed he is not associated with any outlaw motorcycle gang.