B.C. acquittal deals blow to efforts against Hells Angels
The ruling, which finds David Giles, an accused member of Hell's Angels, not guilty, has not ruled that the Hells Angels are not a criminal organization leaving room for 2 subsqeunt cases in which the anti-gang law is being invoked. This is signifcant in that even though the judge ruled Giles is not guilty she did not pass judgement on whether or not the Hells Angels are a criminal organization.
Ahead of yesterday's judgment, police and Hells Angels experts had said the organization feared such a finding, because of the damage to its reputation and the increased arsenal it would give the law against the group's alleged widespread involvement in the criminal underworld.
But the acquittal of Mr. Giles on the drug charges also meant he was not guilty of acting on behalf of a criminal organization, Judge MacKenzie said.
Her ruling also meant she did not have to decide on the critical, landmark issue of whether the Angels' East End chapter itself is a criminal organization.
"I am very, very disappointed," RCMP Chief Superintendent Bob Paulson, who headed the police operation, told CTV News. "I strongly disagree with the judge's decision."
Julian Sher, co-author of two books on the Hells Angels, said the verdict indicates just how difficult it is for the police to nail ringleaders of the group.
"They are going to be shining their Harleys tonight," Mr. Sher said. "The Hells Angels are so impregnable. They isolate themselves [from the criminal activity]. It's their classic modus operandi."
But the fight isn't over, he said, because the judge did not rule on whether the renegade bikers are a criminal organization. "The game is merely postponed. The Angels know there are still big battles ahead."
Charges in this case were laid after police found about nine kilos of cocaine in a storage locker and a secret compartment in a car on a Kelowna used-car lot in April, 2005.
The judge pointed to one occasion when a discussion took place in a room at Mr. Giles's home that had been bugged by police. It was hard to hear, Judge MacKenzie said, because a DVD of the movie Meet the Fockers was playing loudly as Mr. Giles and Mr. Revell appeared to talk about the cocaine bust.
A police transcript of the conversation had Mr. Giles saying: "We'll get back up," implying that he had been involved in the drug trade.
But the judge agreed with defence lawyers who claimed Mr. Giles had actually said: "He'll come back around."
"This demonstrates how unsafe it is to rely on poor quality recordings ... when the context is not clear," she told the crowded courtroom.