Former league player, boxer led woman’s extortion ordeal

A former rugby league player and boxer turned armed robber terrorised a woman, soliciting bikies to threaten her and shoot up her home in a bid to extort her, court documents reveal.

Anthony Stuart “Chook” Fowler was on parole for just a few weeks for robbing more than $19,000 from an Ipswich hotel when he commenced the terrifying extortion ordeal against his former business partner in August 2019.

The grim extent of his campaign was revealed in a Court of Appeal judgment on Tuesday as he sought leave to appeal his “manifestly excessive” six-year prison term.

Camera IconQueensland’s Court of Appeal was told Anthony Stuart ‘Chook’ Fowler had masterminded an extortion ordeal against a woman he had started a business with. Credit: News Regional Media

Fowler, who also dabbled in boxing in addition to playing for the Gold Coast Seagulls and North Sydney Bears, had pleaded guilty to charges including extortion, threatening violence and dangerous conduct with a weapon.

He began the extortion attempt on August 27, 2019 by engaging five men to terrorise the woman, the Court of Appeal judgment reads.

Several of the men were members of prominent outlaw bikie gangs, including the Mongols.

Fowler had opened a business with the woman in 2017 and demanded to be appointed the company director employed on a full-time basis.

On August 29, three men went to the woman’s father’s house demanding she “sign the business over to Chook” and “stop f**king about”.

A day later, one of the men kicked the side door of the woman’s house.

On September 15, 2019 a “completely disguised” man came to her front door and began firing two guns into the house.

“One shot passed through the internal wall of the lounge room and into the bedroom,” Court of Appeal Justice Graeme Crow said.

“The second shot hit a bookcase in the lounge room.”

The threats continued until October, with one of the men commenting she did not appear to be scared enough and “needed another f**king scaring”.

During one phone call, one of the men passed on a message to the woman: “If I were (you) and her Mum, I would get the f**k out of the gym right now, drop the keys off, or they will get some visitors in about 20 minutes”.

The woman eventually transferred the business over to Fowler and another man, who renamed the gym “West Extreme Boxing Pty Ltd”.

In October this year, Fowler received a head sentence of six years, with parole eligibility on November 12.

In his appeal, he submitted the sentence was “harsh” and “manifestly excessive”.

Fowler also argued the sentence gave no regard to the principles of totality.

But this was rejected by Supreme Court Justices John Bond, Peter Flanagan and Graeme Crow.

The court was told Fowler had previously been convicted of an armed robbery at the Cecil Hotel in 2015, serving four years and eight months before being released on parole in August 2019.

Justice Crow said the sentencing judge imposed a parole eligibility date three years after Fowler was returned to custody in November 2019.

“It cannot be demonstrated that setting the parole eligibility date three years after the return to custody is excessive,” he wrote in the judgment.

“The sentence … was formulated appropriately, having regard to sentencing principles and in particular the principle of totality.”

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