Bikies ‘out for pastor’s blood’ after alleged $10 million online sports betting scam

OUTLAW bikies could be after a former evangelical pastor who allegedly masterminded a $10 million online sports betting scam, a Gold Coast court has been told.

Some of the hundreds of victims of alleged fraudster Alan Ernest Davenport were believed to have “sold” their debts to bikies to try to recoup some of their losses, Southport Magistrates Court was told today.

Prosecutor Rosanna Doolan said Davenport, a former pastor with the Gold Coast’s Reach Out For Christ envangelical church, should be held in custody partly for his own protection.

She said threats had been made against him and he should be refused bail “for his own welfare”.

Davenport, 57, faced court on 10 fraud charges related to his role with WTS Investments, which police allege was a sports arbitrage scam.

Angry investors who claim to have lost more than $10 million in the alleged scam were in the public gallery for the appearance of Davenport and three former WTS employees. All were arrested yesterday after an 11-month police investigation.

Opposing bail for Davenport, Ms Doolan said 600 to 700 people Australia had fallen victim to what was “essentially … a scam”.

She said there was no evidence any sport betting took place and the scheme was simply “fraud of the highest, most deceptive nature”.

“It affected victims from all around Australia,” she told the court.

Ms Doolan said Davenport had shown a “blatant and grossly dishonest disregard for the law” as he had become the director of WTS despite being banned by the Perth District Court where he was sentenced to jail for fraud in 2004.

Davenport had allegedly forged documents from financial institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to convince investors to put money into WTS, Ms Doolan told the court.

He had been arrested last February for allegedly passing dud cheques and was due to face court tomorrow on those charges.

Ms Doolan said police believed Davenport would try to return to his native United Kingdom despite his passport being seized.

Defence solicitor Grant Spedding said his client “like everyone else, is entitled to the presumption of innocence”.

Mr Spedding said Davenport had been under investigation for 11 months and, had he intended to, would have absconded before now rather than waiting around “like a kangaroo in the headlights”.

“There is simply no reason that he would … abscond,” Mr Spedding said.

Magistrate George Wilkie said he was satisfied there was a strong case against Davenport and that he was an unacceptable risk of re-offending “and especially (of) failing to appear”.

He remanded him in custody until his next court appearance on February 26.

“All I know is a lot of people out there are hurting – they’ve lost their money and they’ll never get it back,” he said.