Hells Angels court decision only a temporary setback: expert
An expert on organized crime says the Hells Angels have little to celebrate despite a landmark B.C. court ruling this week that cleared three men on charges that could have labelled the infamous motorcycle gang a criminal organization.
Author Julian Sher was reacting to a decision by B.C. Supreme Court Judge Anne Mackenzie.
On Thursday, she ruled that the three men, who had been accused of engaging in a joint venture on behalf of a criminal organization, were not guilty of that charge.
The decision appears to be a setback for authorities, who viewed the trial as an important test of federal anti-gang legislation. If the men had been found guilty, it could have given authorities the ammunition to impose stiffer sentences and seize Hells Angels assets.
But Sher said Thursday's ruling is only the first of many looming court battles involving authorities and the Hells Angels.
In a bid to strike a blow against crime in B.C., police swooped down on a Hells Angels clubhouse in east Vancouver three years ago. It was dubbed the E-pandora raid.
David Roger Revell and Richard Andrew Rempel, alleged to be Hells Angels associates, were among about two dozen people — including David Francis Giles, 58, a full patch member of the Hells Angels — who were arrested and charged by police in the E-pandora raid.
In Thursday's widely watched decision, Mackenzie found that Revell and Rempel were in possession of cocaine and they intended to traffic it.
But she also ruled that the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Giles was ever in possession of the eight kilograms of cocaine seized in the E-Pandora raid.
Giles, Revell and Rempel had been accused of engaging in a joint venture on behalf of a criminal organization.
But since the charges against Giles were dropped, there was nothing to link the three to the more serious charge of working in a joint venture on behalf of a criminal organization.
"Once the judge rules that the particular underlying crime — in this case cocaine smuggling — does not apply, she automatically can't rule on whether the crime was done for the purposes of a criminal organization, because there was no crime committed,'' Sher said.
Still, Sher said authorities will have more opportunities to prosecute members of the Hells Angels.
"Several other top members of the Hells Angels are going to be standing trial in the coming year year,'' he said. "Those are going to be the decisive trials,'' he said.
Sher is author of the book Angels of Death.