Murdered Hells Angel bikie may have died by accident: inquest

A high-ranking Australian Hells Angel who was kidnapped and murdered in Thailand two years ago may have died by accident, an inquest has heard.

Wayne Schneider, 37, was forced into a ute by five men outside his house in Pattaya, south of Bangkok, in the early hours of November 30, 2015.

He was taken to a rented home and tied to a metal commode wheelchair where he was beaten and left alone for several hours.

By the time his captors returned, he was dead, a short inquest at the NSW Coroner's Court heard on Thursday.

A day after he disappeared, Schneider's naked body was found in a deep roadside grave after police examined the GPS records of the white Toyota Hilux he was snatched in.

Schneider, a well-known figure in Sydney's underworld scene, had fled Australia in the early hours of February 15, 2012, after police busted two clandestine meth labs he was linked to in Narellan and Catherine Fields.

While in Thailand he became friends with fellow expat Antonio Bagnato, 28, who had also fled from an Australian crime - the brutal stabbing and shooting murder of Bradley Dillon in 2014, for which his cousin has been convicted.

Bagnato, a muay thai fighter who fought as Tony Bang, rented a room above a bar and trained at Tony's Gym, where Schneider was regularly seen.

He made several other Australian friends, including Douglas Shoebridge - who thought Bagnato was in Thailand on holidays - and Luke Cook, who owned the bar he lived at.

Mr Shoebridge and Mr Cook would later tell police Bagnato regularly talked about Sydney's Saint Michael Fight Club, had a banner for the club on his bedroom wall, and had been trying to recruit new members, giving friends clothing with the Saint Michael logo on it.

On November 28, 2015, Bagnato asked for help from four associates, including US national Tyler Gerard, who also trained at Tony's Gym.

He wanted to demand payment from Schneider, and provided Gerard and each of the three others - who have not been identified - with a balaclava, mobile phone, knuckle dusters, and 80,000 baht ($3200).

Bagnato, a frequent visitor to Schneider's home, retrieved him from inside but did not wear a face covering. He was recognised by a security guard as he held onto Schneider's leg and shoved him onto the floor of the ute.

On Thursday, Detective Sergeant Paul Roe from the NSW Police Gangs Squad told the inquest he travelled to Thailand to investigate the circumstances of Schneider's death with local police.

Police told him Schneider was most likely bashed to death, with Bagnato being the instigator.

"It looked like he coordinated and organised the whole thing, as far as we can see," Detective Sergeant Roe said.

He said Schneider was likely alive when he was taken to the rented home, because he had ligature marks on his leg consistent with being tied, and there was blood found in the same room as the metal wheelchair.

"He was left for a period of time - I don't know how long - in that room by himself," Detective Sergeant Roe said. "Allegedly when they returned to that room, Schneider had passed away. My understanding was they stripped his body there, removed his clothes, and that's when they took him to that roadside grave."

Bagnato was convicted for his role in the murder and sentenced to death. He is currently on death row at Bangkwang Prison, known as the Bangkok Hilton, and has appealed his sentence.

Gerard was due to be released from prison on December 3, after he told Thai police everything he knew and led them through the crime scenes. However, prosecutors have since appealed his sentence and are seeking the death penalty.

When Australian detectives travelled to Thailand to speak to Bagnato about about the murders of Schneider and Dillon, he refused to speak without his lawyer present.

The detectives talked to him before the formal interview, and he allegedly said about Schneider's murder: "Yeah it's a long prison term for an accident."

According to police documents tendered to the Coroner's Court, the Royal Thai Police have identified "a number of other suspects involved in the murder of Schneider who may be Australian citizens and may have returned to Australia".

Mr Shoebridge told police he was contacted on Facebook after Schneider's murder by a man who claimed to be associated with the Saint Michael Fight Club.

The man threatened to kill Mr Shoebridge and his family if he spoke to authorities about the fight club or the murder of Schneider.

Acting state coroner Teresa O'Sullivan found Schneider died by homicide at the house where he was detained, from a blunt-force injury to his head.

His body was returned to Sydney in December 2015, where it was cremated following a funeral.

This story Murdered Hells Angel bikie may have died by accident: inquest first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.