Australia

Woman accused of helping lure bikie to shooting ‘used fake Instagram account’

A woman is accused of using a fake Instagram account to lure Mongols bikie Rocco Curra into an ambush where he was repeatedly shot. Athar Almatrah, 30, has been charged with attempted murder in relation to the shooting of the bikie at Bulleen in August last year. Mr Curra was shot in the head and…

A woman is accused of using a fake Instagram account to lure Mongols bikie Rocco Curra into an ambush where he was repeatedly shot.

Athar Almatrah, 30, has been charged with attempted murder in relation to the shooting of the bikie at Bulleen in August last year. Mr Curra was shot in the head and torso four times but survived the attack.

Ms Almatrah is also charged with recklessly and seriously causing serious injury over the incident.

The allegations were aired during her bail application in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

“The victim was lured to the address because he thought he had started a relationship with a woman he met on Instagram,” Detective Senior Constable Scott Harris told the court.

He opposed bail on the grounds she was an unacceptable risk and could flee the jurisdiction.

Police allege Ms Almatrah set up a fake Instagram account under the name “Sarah Riccardo” and befriended the Mongol using the social media account.

“They spoke regularly, all the way up until the point in time he was shot,” Constable Harris said.

“By the end of that conversation … the victim agreed to come and meet the fake Instagram person at Bulleen specifically at an address.”

He described it as a “flirty relationship” and said the fake account was set up in July, according to the social media giant’s records.

It was set up using an IP address that matched the one where Ms Almatrah was living at the time, Constable Harris said.

Police claim the traffic controller agreed to set up the Instagram account for $5000, which was discussed in tapped phone calls with her sister and a conversation with her then-boyfriend Ali Hussein.

He is one of the alleged shooters and gave a statement to police about her alleged involvement.

She was never paid the cash and was angry about it, Constable Harris told the court.

“I still want my $5k, whatever happens … what’s $5k to these c***s,” she said in a recorded call.

Her lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson argued the prosecution case against her client was “extremely weak” and she would fight all the allegations.

The $5000 was not payment for setting up the Instagram account and she loaned the money to Mr Hussein in relation to a rental property and was chasing it up, Ms Garde-Wilson said.

She also had no prior convictions, there was likely a substantial delay before a trial and there was little evidence about her involvement in the shooting, the lawyer said.

It was also her first time in custody and she had spent the past month behind bars in strict lockdown because of coronavirus, Ms Garde-Wilson said.

She said a surety of $100,000 was also available for her client.

“There is absolutely no evidence to back either of these three charges against Ms Almatrah, which would require an intent and knowledge in relation to the what purpose of the setting up was for,” Ms Garde-Wilson said.

She said the prosecution case relied on the word of the co-accused Mr Hussein, who gave a statement in relation to her client’s alleged involvement and his credibility was in doubt.

His evidence was “questionable” to say the least, Ms Garde-Wilson said.

In total, 16 people are facing charges in relation to the near-fatal shooting.

In January, Sione Hokafonu and Mr Hussein were charged with the attempted murder and were accused of being the gunmen.

Magistrate Trieu Huynh granted bail to Ms Almatrah on the $100,000 surety and other conditions including the surrender of her passport, a curfew and her not communicating with witnesses or other co-accused.

Her matter will return to court in February.

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