(This column was published in the North Shore News on Aug. 30, 2000)


Bikers score a court victory

By Leo Knight

SINCE last week's column on the Alberta court decision by Judge Fradsham in the case brought against the RCMP by the Hells Angels, I have had the opportunity to review the 110-page written "reasons for judgement" and am now even more outraged at the comments made by the judge.  


The decision emanated from a series of roadside checks conducted by the police in July 1997, on a column of 150 colour-wearing Hells Angels, accompanied I might add, by two lawyers conveniently earning their daily crust on the payroll of the "good ol' boys who just like to hang out and ride bikes."  


Fradsham arrived at the conclusion that the police had breached the constitutional rights of the bikers by conducting a mass roadside check while they were en route to a "patchover" of the Grim Reapers gang making them full fledged members of the most notorious outlaw motorcycle gang in the world.  


Had Fradsham come to this conclusion based on a strictly constitutional argument, I could accept it, quite probably without agreeing with it, but as a legal decision with a sound basis in law. But, this does not appear to be the case.  


Fradsham took issue with the way in which the police disseminate their intelligence, calling it "the stuff of legends: it supports a particular view but may not be that reliable," said the judge.  


He also took issue with RCMP Sgt. J. P. Levesque, the Mountie responsible for coordinating intelligence on outlaw motorcycle gangs from police forces across the country in his position at Criminal Intelligence Services Canada. (CISC). He said Levesque does not apply RCMP investigative standards to intelligence information preferring instead to "trust" the officers providing the data.  


What does he suggest Levesque do? Physically go out to the far-flung reaches of the country and verify each snippet of information coming into his office in Ottawa? What an absolutely asinine thing to say.  


This is a stupid, unrealistic and blatantly ignorant conclusion.  


Intelligence, by its very definition, is not evidence. It is the result of something like, for example, a traffic cop in Vancouver stopping a car driven by a biker and making note of and reporting who he was with, when and where they were going. A little snippet of information which may be but a small piece in a colossal jigsaw puzzle.  


Fradsham also took issue with the police expert witnesses not providing specific facts before his court, rather relying on more general information. What he fails to realize, is that it is the direct result of legislation and precedent court decisions that precludes the police from citing specific information.  


For example, and this is only one of many across this country, information learned by Vancouver police investigators in "Project Nova," a conspiracy to import and traffic case currently before the courts which took down the network of three local Hells Angels, cannot be disclosed because it resulted from wiretaps or other types of electronic surveillance.  


Why not? Because the Criminal Code says it is an offence to disclose information gained in such a manner until it has been brought forward in open court. If that information never gets in front of a court, no matter how damning, it can never be disclosed publicly. Is it good intel? Absolutely. But the police are handcuffed by the system and cannot tell the truth, backed up by facts and must stand mute in the face of withering criticism by judges like Fradsham.  


The judge also said the bikers involved in the check stop had no recent criminal records and, as such, the police were operating on innuendo and assumption. Oh really?  


Consider this. One of the participants has not been convicted of a criminal offence in many years. Yet, in the early 1990s he was charged with the murder of a Georgia Street nightclub owner. There were over 30 witnesses. Yet on the day of the preliminary hearing, with the benches in the courtroom filled with colour-wearing Hells Angels, no one was willing to testify. What a surprise.  


The same man, who operates several so-called legitimate businesses, was arrested in North Vancouver in 1996 carrying over $100,000 in cash in a bag in the trunk of his car along with an illegal gun. This, as a result of an extortion and money laundering investigation which involved wire taps. You know, those things that police can't disclose unless they are introduced in a criminal trial.  


Yet he never went to trial on the charges.  


Why? Hell, I don't know. Some prosecutor couldn't muster up the requisite cajones and hid behind the oh-so-typical, "there's not a substantial likelihood of a conviction" excuse. Meanwhile, the primary witness in the case is still, to this day, in witness protection lest he be deprived of his life's breath for daring to talk to the cops against the bikers.  


I do not know this particular judge, nor can I speculate on the reasons why he would ignore the harsh reality presented by the Hells Angels. But I will say the written reasons for this decision stink to the high heavens.  


Logic, reality and a careful examination of the facts seem to have played little part in the mental meanderings of this judge in this case. This decision will inhibit the ability of the police to collect intelligence against one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in this country.  


Score one more for the bad guys.





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