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Former Brothers for Life figures found guilty of Joe Antoun’s murder

A CCTV camera captured Joe Antoun’s shooter outside his home. Photo: NSW Police CCTV footage shows Brothers For Life leader Farhad Qaumi (left) and Pasquale Barbaro at Star City casino in 2014. Photo: Supplied
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Widow of murdered man Joseph Antoun, Tegan Mullins, leaves the Downing Centre on Tuesday. Photo: Ben Rushton

Nemer Antoun outside court after his brother’s killers were found guilty on Tuesday. Photo: Ben Rushton

Two former Brothers for Life figures have been found guilty of murdering standover man Joe Antoun at his Sydney home.

Mr Antoun was shot four times through the screen door of his Strathfield home on December 16, 2013, in front of his wife, Tegan, and with his children inside.

A CCTV camera outside his home captured a man in a hooded jumper running up his driveway, waiting at the door and fleeing after firing a succession of shots.

It was alleged former Brothers for Life gang Blacktown chapter leader Farhad Qaumi and his brother Mumtaz Qaumi had accepted a contract to kill Mr Antoun in exchange for money related to the purchase of a kebab shop.

Construction boss Elias “Les” Elias was behind the purchase of that business for $190,000, which was well-above an advertised asking price of $25,000 on Gumtree.

There had been long-standing animosity between Elias, who is now in the Philippines, and Mr Antoun over a soured business deal.

The Crown’s star witness was a person referred to as “witness L”, who fired the fatal shots at Mr Antoun.

He claimed in his evidence he was engaged by BFL chapter boss Farhad, a man who put “fear in the members’ hearts”, to carry out the shooting.

Under instructions to say he was “Adam from TNT”, witness L knocked on Mr Antoun’s door, claimed to have had a “package for Joe” before shooting him four times.

Witness L has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for murder.

After pleading not guilty, Mumtaz and Farhad faced a judge-alone trial in the NSW Supreme Court last year.

In delivering a lengthy judgment on Tuesday morning, Justice Peter Hamill found both men guilty of murder.

In a bizarre move, both men refused to come up from the cells to sit in court for the judgment, claiming through their legal teams they would “physically resist” attempts to bring them into court.

Justice Hamill said he did not intend to put the physical safety of the accused or corrective services in jeopardy but conceded it was an “unusual situation”.

Justice Hamill carefully detailed the numerous conflicts Mr Antoun had with some notorious figures in Sydney’s underworld and construction industry, including Jim Byrnes and Pasquale Barbaro.

The court heard that Mr Barbaro, who was shot dead last November, hated Mr Antoun and the pair had been in a dispute.

Justice Hamill accepted that Mr Barbaro, who grew close to the Qaumis towards the end of 2013, had a motive to kill Mr Antoun.

“The evidence does not allow a clear finding as to whether Pasquale Barbaro or others may have stood behind Elias in this enterprise but I suspect that he did,” Mr Hamill said.

It was not necessary for the Crown to say who stood behind the killing, he added.

However he rejected the submission that Mr Barbaro, through a rollover associate of the Brothers for Life gang – identified as witness M – organised the killing.

Witness M had a friendship with Mr Barbaro that pre-dated a relationship with the Qaumis. Witness M had also been linked to the Hamzy family, of whom Mohammed – also known as “LC” – was the leader of the BFL’s Bankstown chapter.

Witness M gave evidence over seven days during the trial, claiming that Farhad said that Elias offered money to kill Mr Antoun.

Colourful business figure “Big Jim” Byrnes also had a toxic relationship with Mr Antoun, the court heard, but called up Burwood police after learning of his murder to deny any involvement.

Mr Antoun was also a close friend and business associate of construction industry figure George Alex.

The Qaumis will face a sentence hearing in April.

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