Hells Angels bikie killer to get a minute of freedom
Exclusive: An Australian kickboxing champion convicted and sentenced to death in Thailand over the murder of a Hells Angels drug boss is to be released from a Bangkok jail having served less than three years.
But his expected release later today is expected to last a technical single minute with a new arrest warrant issued for his immediate rearrest for questioning over an unrelated murder in Sydney four years earlier.
Antonio Bagnato was convicted by a Thai court in 2015 of the kidnapping and murder of Australian Hells Angels boss Wayne Schneider in Thailand during an ongoing internal gang feud over the smuggling of amphetamines to Australia.
Bagnato, Schneider's bodyguard, hired four men to kidnap and torture Schneider whose body was found in a road side shallow grave outside Pattaya.
The torture apparently went too far and he died; the pair had been friends and once ran a boxing gym together and were jointly under investigation for years for links to international drugs running.
At the time of Schneider's murder, Bagnato was also on the run from police in NSW for his alleged involvement in the murder of Bradley Dillon in Leichhardt in Sydney's inner west a year earlier in August 2014.
That slaying involved a completely innocent Mr Dillon trying to pay off a debt for his sister.
But as previously reported, despite a Thai court convicting Bagnato for the Schneider murder and sentencing him to death, the sentence was months later commuted to life in jail and reduced again for apparent good behaviour.
Australian authorities and Schneider's family have been appealing to the Thais for months to keep him in jail but News Corp Australia understands Thai authorities were to technically release Bagnato today from the notorious Bangkwang Prison over the Schneider murder before slapping him with a brief already prepared by NSW Police and co-ordinated by the Australian Federal Police to have him immediately rearrested on a NSW Police warrant related to the murder of Mr Dillon.
Australia will now seek to formerly apply for his extradition. He is to be held in custody until that hearing is heard.
But his technical release today will give some hope to three other Hells Angels linked associates including an Australian - also tied to the Schneider murder - who two months ago were also sentenced to death.
That trio Luke Joshua Cook, his wife Kanyat Wechapitak and 23-year-old American man Tyler Gerard were arrested last December over a related drugs plot; Gerard had served his sentence for the Schneider murder last December but was rearrested over that drugs plot.
The Australian Federal Police declined to comment today about the case as it was a matter for NSW Police who could not be contacted.
Bagnato, 29, conspired to assault Schneider who had given, earlier in the year, Cook $15 million to co-ordinate, collect and store a huge haul of at least half a tonne of crystal methamphetamine coming in from China to Thailand for later smuggling to Australia. But the haul was thrown overboard after Thai border control spotted Cook's yacht. That was in 2015 and Cook and his wife were not arrested over that drug smuggling plot until last December after returning to Thailand from Australia. Cook had also previously been convicted of attempting to help Bagnato escape Thailand via the Cambodian border in the days after Schneider's murder.
Bagnato, once referred to as pin-up boy for the St Andrews Fight Cub based at Marrickville in Sydney's inner west, was suspected by NSW detectives to have been with his cousin Diego Carbone when Mr Dillon was killed over a debt owed to a member of fight club. Bagnato left Australia two days after Dillon's murder while his cousin was arrested, tried and convicted for the murder and handed a non-parole 21-year-sentence.
NSW Supreme Court heard Mr Dillon was lured to his death via text message by Carbone and Bagnato while trying to settle a $2000 debt for his sister.