Manitoba

Alleged Hells Angels informant's lawsuit claims identity revealed to gang, police didn't protect him

In the lawsuit, the man says he was a former prospect for the Hells Angels who worked as an informant for Winnipeg police — and he wasn't protected after the biker gang found out.

Suit says former prospect now in ‘constant fear,’ seeks damages for breach of informer privilege, lost income

The plaintiff was recruited as a police informant while incarcerated, a statement of claim filed in a Manitoba court on Jan. 25 says. (EdStock/iStock)

A man who says he was a Hells Angels prospect alleges in a lawsuit someone revealed to a lawyer linked to the biker gang that he was also an informant — then police didn't protect him.

The plaintiff is listed as John Doe in the statement of claim filed in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench on Jan. 25. He became a prospect with the gang's Winnipeg and Thunder Bay chapter around 1998 and is now in prison on a drug conviction, the statement of claim says.

After being recruited as a police source while incarcerated, the man was released in August 2013 and started feeding police information on drug shipments, illegal cigarettes and encrypted phones, the statement of claim says.

The relationship was forged by Winnipeg Police Service Const. Wes Law and later shifted to another officer, Grant Goulet, the statement of claim alleges.

The court filing says the information the man shared resulted in the arrests and convictions of "numerous" people, including during Project Sideshow, a cross-country investigation that resulted in 14 arrests.

The information also led to the arrest of alleged Hells Angels prospect Sean Demchuk, the court filing says. It claims someone let slip the plaintiff's informant status to Demchuk's lawyer in a 2015 disclosure, "in cavalier disregard" of their duty to protect him.

The statement of claim suggests this person worked either for the Crown — possibly an attorney or their assistant — or the Winnipeg Police Service.

After that, the man got a phone call from his roommate, a member of the Hells Angels. The court filing says he was told the gang knew he was an informant and he was "in trouble with the Club" — which led to years on the run and multiple attempts on his life, now marked by "constant fear."

The statement of claim lists the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Police Service, police chief Danny Smyth, officers Goulet and Law, the Government of Manitoba and Manitoba Attorney General Cameron Friesen as defendants.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and a statement of defence has not yet been filed.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Const. Jay Murray said in an email police had not been served on Sunday morning and declined to comment. The province did not respond to a request for comment.

Murder attempts, drug bust

After his identity was leaked, the man went into hiding and contacted police, the court filing says. He was taken into witness protection, put up in hotels and given $20 a day.

That wasn't enough to live, so the man returned to his job as a trucker — which got him booted from protection, the filing says.

The man lived in his truck and rented rooms as he fled attempts on his life, the statement of claim says: a drive-by shooting in the parking lot of a Winnipeg mall, snowy footsteps leading to a possible bomb left under his car in Thunder Bay, an axe left on the couch of his burglarized Winnipeg apartment.

All this happened as he awaited trial on the drug charge he's now incarcerated for, the court filing says, which was tied to a cocaine run in August 2014 — a few months before his identity was allegedly revealed. 

The court filing says the man told his police contact, Goulet, about the job — to exchange a kilogram of "bad" cocaine for "good" cocaine with a senior Hells Angels member in Burnaby, B.C. — and was instructed to go along with it.

The man arranged to make a return trip to Vancouver as a truck driver. On his way back, RCMP arrested him for the cocaine but released him without charges after he told the officer he was working for Winnipeg police.

None of the allegations made in the statement of claim, filed in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, have been proven in court. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

After that run-in, the man talked to Goulet and believed the officer "would look after it" so he wouldn't be charged for the cocaine — but four months later, he was, the statement of claim says.

Still, the man was "confident he would be exonerated," the filing says, and told his counsel to subpoena Goulet to give evidence.

But for "reasons unknown" to the man, the officer "either knowingly and recklessly or negligently gave false evidence to the court" that negated the man's defence, the filing says. The informant was sentenced to six years in April 2018.

The filing alleges Goulet's "false testimony" at trial led to the man's incarceration, which put him "in even greater danger of retaliation from those that wish him ill." 

The man's prison stint led to another attempt on his life last April, when he was beaten and choked in his cell until a guard arrived, the statement of claim says.

The court filing says the man believes the inmate who left him with deep face cuts and broken teeth is a member of the Hells Angels-affiliated Zig Zag Crew.

The man is now seeking damages. The statement of claim says the situation violated his informer privilege and right to life, liberty and security under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also cost him money and affected his ability to earn, the filing says.

With files from Kristin Annable

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