Nova Scotia

Hells Angels hitman denied parole in 1st bid for freedom

A Hells Angels hitman who’s serving a life sentence for murder has been denied day parole, even though he’s been eligible for full parole since July.

Kelsie shot and killed Sean Simmons at an apartment building in north-end Dartmouth in 2000

Dean Daniel Kelsie has been in prison since his arrest in 2001. (CBC)

A Hells Angels hitman who's serving a life sentence for murder has been denied day parole, even though he's been eligible for full parole since July.

Dean Daniel Kelsie, 46, was denied release during a hearing of the Parole Board of Canada earlier this month.

This is just the latest chapter in a long and complicated legal saga that has played out in courtrooms in Halifax and Ottawa.

Kelsie shot and killed Sean Simmons in the lobby of an apartment building in north-end Dartmouth, N.S., on Oct. 3, 2000. Kelsie was one of four men who took part in the killing.

Two other men, Neil William Smith and Wayne Alexander James, are serving life sentences for their roles in Simmons's killing. A fourth man, Steven Gareau, was set free in 2018 after a judge ended the prosecution against him.

Simmons was gunned down on orders from a Hells Angel because he allegedly had an affair with a gang member's wife.

Initial conviction overturned

Kelsie was initially convicted of first-degree murder, but that conviction was overturned on appeal.

Crown prosecutors took the case to the Supreme Court of Canada to try to get that conviction restored. The Supreme Court refused to do that and instead — with the consent of the lawyers — substituted a conviction for second-degree murder.

The change was significant for Kelsie because a first-degree murder conviction meant he had to serve a minimum of 25 years before he could begin applying for parole. The change to second-degree reduced that period of parole ineligibility to time served, because Kelsie has been in prison since his arrest in 2001.

A judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court accepted a joint recommendation for the new sentence during a hearing last summer. That left Kelsie's fate in the hands of the parole board.

Kelsie's time in prison has been marked by conflict and violence. He has 20 disciplinary offences, including fighting, uttering threats and failing drug tests. The most recent incident was in May of last year.

Parole board says things have changed

But the parole board noted that things have changed with his new sentence.

"Since then, the psychologist mentioned that you indeed seem to demonstrate a considerable improvement in your behaviour, and this, while displaying a desire and an ability to open up, to investigate your internal universe and to confront your dark areas."

However, in rejecting his bid for release, the Board found Kelsie needs to do more before he can be reintegrated into a society he has not been part of for two decades.

"The board notes that your criminality is persistent and polymorphous. You have a history of violent acting out. The present offence shows an aggravation of the criminal acting out to an extreme level as you caused the death of the victim."

His case will be reviewed again in 18 months.



Blair Rhodes


Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at