(This column was published in the North Shore News on Aug. 23, 2000)


Bench blind on organized crime

By Leo Knight

LAST Friday, Alberta Provincial Court Judge Allan Fradsham delivered a 110-page decision effectively stating the police had breached the rights of 150 or so Hells Angels who were travelling to Red Deer in July 1997 to attend the formal "patchover" of the Grim Reapers bike gang.  


The decision was the result of a court challenge made by the Angels, which involved numerous days of testimony from a variety of people, including the local media darling, criminology Professor Neil Boyd of Simon Fraser University. Boyd, long an advocate of legalizing marijuana, was a defence witness in the case. He testified, "My opinion is that chapters in Western Canada are not involved in organized crime as chapters or as a regional entity.''  


Boyd's testimony came from his vast experience and interviewing "32 members and visiting various clubhouses in the past couple of months."  


So let me get this straight. The professor interviews the bikers and accepts their largesse and parties with them at the clubhouses and from this he determines they are not involved in organized crime. And he's passed off as some kind of expert in a court of law?  


What did he do for his research? Ask the bikers if they were involved in organized crime? And when they said, "No sir!"... alrighty then, case closed! Let's go to the clubhouse and have a few pops.  


In my view, whatever credibility Boyd might have had is now permanently, irretrievably destroyed. Three years ago, Professor Rob Gordon, who runs the SFU criminology department, wrote a report on gang activity, which referred to the Hells Angels as a criminal business organization. Evidently Boyd's level of research doesn't even require he talk to his colleagues at SFU, let alone the cops who investigate organized crime.  


Evidently, neither do judges.  


Judge Fradsham ruled on three points of law. Essentially, he said the police breached the bikers' rights in detaining them for several hours on the roadside while they identified and photographed everyone for intelligence purposes. But, he also said there was no breach on the Angels' freedom of association or freedom of mobility.  


Now, it should be said that I don't inherently have a problem with the ruling itself. It is to be expected from those who worship at the altar of the Charter and park their common sense elsewhere. My concerns come about from some of the comments made by the judge in his written conclusions.  


When he concluded the police did not breach the Angels' right to freedom of mobility and association, he stated the police were operating on the basis of "unsupported conclusions." He also termed the bikers as "unsavory characters." But, he refused to recognize that the Hells Angels are an organized crime group. This is unbelievable.


Never mind examples like the ongoing war over drug turf in Quebec with the Rock Machine and the 150 plus associated deaths or the host of documented evidence presented annually and publicly by Criminal Intelligence Services Canada to Parliament.  


Consider, if you will, the comments of Alberta Judge B.R. Fraser, a colleague of Fradsham, in a case involving a former Hells Angel, Anthony Leonard Vaughan, who pleaded guilty last year to 13 criminal charges including possession of a bomb, a 2.2-kilogram tube of dynamite.  


In the decision in that case, Judge Fraser made this statement: "The accused has a lengthy, serious and unenviable record. That should be expected given he was a member of the Hells Angels."  


So what does this judge know, that everyone else in the justice system also knows, that somehow Fradsham can't seem to grasp?  


The case against Vaughan was much talked about in the halls of justice in Alberta. Vaughan you see had a problem. He owed a considerable sum of money in a drug debt to another member. To repay the debt, he was ordered to bomb some homes including one of a Calgary alderman.  


Vaughan got himself jammed up by the police in an unrelated criminal matter and offered to testify against the Angel who ordered the bombings. He consented to wiretaps and electronic surveillance to gather evidence against the biker. That case is still before the courts so I will not go into it. The result was the deal Vaughan made with the Crown on his outstanding charges which Fraser was dealing with.  


Further on in his reasons for judgement, Judge Fraser said, "The accused has agreed to give evidence against the person charged with these serious criminal charges arising from the information supplied by him. He will be a key material witness for the Crown. His evidence will probably determine whether a conviction is registered against the Hells Angel member accused.  


"The consequences to the accused for doing so are grave. He will most likely never be able to live the same life again. He will most certainly need protection from a notorious group of people known as the Hells Angels until he testifies and long after. I am advised that at this moment, there is a half million dollar contract out on his life, offered by the Hells Angels," concluded Fradsham's brother Judge Fraser.  


Amazing how, according to Fradsham, the police were acting on "unsupported conclusions" about these "unsavory characters."





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