column was published in the North
Shore News on
Aug. 30, 2000)
a court victory
By Leo Knight
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
is a stupid, unrealistic and blatantly ignorant conclusion.
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
he never went to trial on the charges.
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.
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.
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.