Two men have been found not guilty of murdering former Comanchero bikie boss Mick Hawi outside a Sydney gym.
Hawi was ambushed in a daylight shooting outside the Rockdale Fitness First, in the city’s south, as he finished a workout in February 2018.
CCTV captured the 37-year-old being shot at close range in the head, face and shoulder as he sat in his car by a person clad in all black.
Accused gunman Yusuf Nazlioglu, 39, and accused getaway car driver Jamal Eljaidi, 32, pleaded not guilty and faced a three-week trial in the NSW Supreme Court.
The jury deliberated for about four days before today finding both men not guilty.
After the verdict was handed down, one of Hawi’s relatives yelled at the accused.
“I know you did it, you know you did it,” she said.
After the shooting, police found a burnt-out Mercedes that had been used as a getaway car.
The court heard weeks later, a balaclava was found in a second vehicle — a silver Toyota Aurion — which contained DNA consistent with that of Mr Nazlioglu.
According to the Crown’s circumstantial case, the DNA tied Mr Nazlioglu to the balaclava and the balaclava itself was linked to the crime scene because both contained traces of gunshot residue.
However, Mr Nazlioglu’s barrister, Avni Djemal, told the jurors the “big piece missing” for the Crown was the lack of any blood on the balaclava.
The jury heard Hawi and Mr Nazlioglu were once close friends but the relationship soured after Hawi was “embarrassed” by his behaviour during a Central Coast fishing trip and ordered him home.
The falling out was suggested to be a possible motive for the killing.
Hawi’s widow, Carolina Gomez, recalled seeing Mr Nazlioglu soon after the fishing trip and trying to talk to him, noticing his eyes were “bulging” and he was clenching his fists.
The defence teams questioned the evidence of eyewitnesses and their poor-quality vantage points, also suggesting many others had motives to kill Hawi who became the Comanchero president at just 22.
Crown Prosecutor Lou Lungo warned jurors to be wary of “red herrings” offered up as alternative explanations for the killing.
This included tensions between Hawi and former Comanchero head Mark Buddle, whom Mr Lungo said “wasn’t even in the country” at the time of the death.
The height of both defendants played a key role in the trial.
An expert who analysed the CCTV angles estimated the main person shown in the footage was about 186 centimetres tall.
This eliminated the towering Mr Eljaidi, who stands at nearly 200cm tall, his barrister argued.
Mr Nazlioglu was measured as being 175.8cm tall in July 2020.
A crime scene officer told the court DNA swabs taken from the Toyota Aurion’s centre console, passenger door armrest, driver’s seat belt and passenger door armrest returned results that matched Mr Eljaidi’s.
A swab from the driver’s headrest returned a mixed result matching the DNA of both men.
But Mr Eljaidi worked as a panel beater and spray painter, and his DNA may have been deposited there through other means, his barrister said.
Although only one man was accused of pulling the trigger, the Crown alleged they were part of a “joint criminal enterprise” which rendered them equally responsible for the actions of one another.