A member of motorcycle gang 'Bandidos' is pictured at the courtroom during a trial at the regional court in Muenster December 17, 2007. Reuters/Ina Fassbender

A man who infiltrated the infamous Bandidos bikie gang has been granted refugee status in Canada after Australia blew his cover. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) in Canada has agreed that Australian authorities have put Steven Utah’s life at risk.

Utah, a former soldier, has become the first known refugee from Australia after the IRB accepted evidence that there were murder contracts placed on his life. He was recruited by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) for a national operation against bikie gangs, helping authorities with their cases against the group. However, the agency failed to give him adequate protection.

The IRB said Australia’s top crime agency outed him as an informant with a 2006 media release “divulging that they had a source” in the Bandidos. He then since received death threats from some Bandidos members on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Months later, he fled Australia. He has since spent his life hiding.

The ACC, which paid Utah as a registered agent and gave him legal immunity while under the Bandidos, removed him from protective custody after his cover was blown.

“I do find that the claimant would more likely than not face a serious risk to his life, almost immediately on his return to Australia,” IRB member Jodie Schmalzbauer wrote in a judgement, which was obtained by the ABC. She said that the authorities were “either unwilling or unable to provide protection to him at that time.

Utah’s lawyer in Australia, Chris Hannay, had exhausted all option to keep him safe. He had approached various agencies, including Queensland Police in a bid to give his client protective custody.

“Although the state should not be obliged to guarantee perfect protection, there does appear to the panel to be a broader pattern due to corruption, ineptness and structural difficulties that when confronted with motivated and capable [outlaw motorcycle gangs] … that effective protection is not forthcoming, to informants or sources,” the IRB said in its decision.

No longer Australian

“I am now not Australia,” Utah told the ABC in a statement. He said that while he was “pleased for Australia” that it had since formed new anti-gang and corruption entities, he had been failed by the institutions.

“Protection is questionable at best and it was found there is not and was not any ‘internal flight avenue’ available to me,” he said. “What was done to me years ago is not the cause of serving members of policing agencies … nor did the sitting [Federal] Government do this to me. But the institutions they currently serve most certainly did.”