Saddest end for the baddest bikie who wanted to go clean
Brent 'BJ' Reker once declared he was going to become "Australia's biggest baddest bikie". And by just 17 he had brought the Rock Machine outlaw motorcycle gang to Australia, and quickly rose to become the feared boss of the Finks. But his life ended in despair in a prison cell at Ravenhall Correctional Centre last December in circumstances still under investigation by a Coroner.
The story of Brent 'BJ' Reker's life has been told for the first time by his mother, Lynette Kersten, who revealed her son was determined to leave Melbourne's dangerous underworld for good.
"He said he wanted to 'get the f - k out of Victoria and that only the tough survive," his mum said.
At the time of his death Reker, 35, was in negotiations with the Finks to exit the club, find legitimate work and had even began getting his tattoos removed.
The bikie boss feared for his young family and the risk his position had put them in after their home was targeted by gunfire in 2018 in a case still unsolved.
His mum said: "He had just had enough. He told me there is no brotherhood like your own family."
Nicknamed "The Rock" for his impressive build, Reker stood at 6"2 and was covered head to toe in tattoos.
His look was so intimidating he would cover his tattoo with stage makeup when he needed to, including at rental inspections.
His motto was 'some people hang their art work on the wall and others put it on their body'.
Never-before-seen photos show him clean-skinned and smiling as a young boy.
His mum said he was like any other child and loved playing footy and being with friends.
He attended St Joseph's Warragul and Karingal High School before completing year 12 in Perth.
By his teens his interest in footy waned as he developed a taste for the bikie life and began hanging out at clubhouses and tattoo parlours.
At age 16 Reker got his first tattoo - flowers on his left shoulder for his sisters Lauren and Katelyn - and the next year he started up the Rock Machine in Perth, his mum said.
"He said 'mum, I'm going to start my own club.' I said 'what the hell, it's not like football' and he said he could do whatever he wanted," Ms Kersten said.
"I told him 'you're an idiot' but he called the Canadian chapter of the Rock Machine and asked if he could set up and Australian chapter and they said yes."
During his time as the Rock Machine's sergeant-at-arms, the club went to war with the Rebels and Reker wound up in jail for extortion over a $2000 payment.
It was during Reker's time behind bars that his 21-year-old brother Tyren took his own life in Melbourne on New Year's Eve of 2011.
Reker was forever haunted by it.
After completing his prison sentence Reker returned to Melbourne to run the Finks and 'shut down' rogue chapters in Gippsland and Melbourne's outer east.
His mum said he was fearless and one of the "hardest riders in town".
"He could ride like no one else. It was like the movies … he would rev his bike and everyone would move out of the way," she said.
"It was better than sex going for a ride with my son."
Reker made enemies along the way both inside and outside the Finks, according to his mum.
The bikie boss was inside his Warrain St home with his two-week-old son Saint and fiancee Tess when it was targeted in a drive-by shooting in June 2018.
His car was also firebombed in the attack still under investigation by Echo Taskforce detectives.
From that point on Reker feared for his family's safety and armed himself with a gun for protection.
"He was always moving because he was told he was going to be shot," his mum said.
"At home he would always be looking around. He would think he heard something then go have a look. He was mostly worried about Tess and their son."
Three months after the drive-by shooting, Reker and a mob of Finks bikies allegedly beat a man with a tyre iron at a home in Hampton Park.
The alleged confrontation involving co-accused Nathan Martinow, Corey Wanakore-Moeke and Pierce Williams was an act of revenge for friend Tara Egglestone who had been humiliated in a nude photo scandal.
Reker was locked up at Melbourne Assessment Prison over the alleged assault but tasted freedom one last time during a brief period of bail.
While free Reker got a legitimate job, started seeing a psychologist and began getting his tattoos removed in a show of commitment to his new life.
He was crushed when the Supreme Court overturned the bail decision 31 days later, putting him back behind bars.
Prison sources told heraldsun.com.au he quickly spiralled from this point.
"He knew that no matter what he did or how hard he tried, he would always be BJ Reker the monster with the tatts," the source said.
Reker attempted to take his life on several occasions while in prison and spent a period of time at MAP's high-security psychiatric unit.
He was later transferred to Ravenhall, a medium-security prison, where he died awaiting trial.
Ms Kersten does not want to believe her son took his own life and is furious with the prison for allowing his death to occur.
"He had been in the psych unit. That's more reason why they should have been watching him," she said.
"They mucked up and destroyed a family. They broke my heart."
When informed of her anger, the Department of Justice and Community Safety would not comment because of the ongoing coronial investigation but described Reker's death as a "tragedy".
He is buried in the same plot as his brother Tyren at Warragul Cemetery.
Ms Kersten said there are many things she misses about her son, who, like her, "had small ears and a big attitude".
"I remember one time we were going to Toorongo Falls near Noojee and he had his sisters in one car and I had my mum in another," she said.
"He parked the car in an embankment and they were all lying over the road like there had been an accident and they were all dead.
"He was such a prankster. He was always fun, laughing and being silly.
"I will always be proud of him no matter what he has said or done."
He is survived by his son Saint, 2, and daughter Sari, 10.
If you need support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Originally published as Saddest end for the baddest bikie