Thursday, March 27, 2008 - 07:25 PM
By: The Canadian Press
Vancouver - An effort by B.C. Crown prosecutors to have a full-patch member of the Hell's Angels convicted of working for a criminal organization failed Thursday when a judge ruled she didn't have enough evidence to come to that finding.
Justice Anne MacKenzie ruled the Crown's case against David Gilles was weak and she found him not guilty of a drug offence. As a result, she said she couldn't find him guilty of the charge of committing an offence as part of a criminal organization.
The case had been seen as possibly a landmark since it might have resulted in the Hell's Angels being labelled a criminal organization. But that didn't happen.
MacKenzie concluded Giles' case and that of two associates of the Hell's Angels were intertwined. Giles, 58, was found not guilty of possession of cocaine and not guilty of the count involving the commission of an offence for a criminal organization.
She found Richard Rempel, 24, and David Revell, 43, guilty of cocaine possession and guilty of cocaine trafficking, but not guilty of the criminal organization charge.
"The Crown's case on Count Two (criminal organization) against all three depends upon a finding of Giles's guilt on Count One," she ruled. "Count Two is the criminal organization offence and it depends upon the link of the (two) accused to Giles in the commission of the possession offence."
The verdicts followed a 10-month trial that ended last month and involved eight kilograms of cocaine that police seized from three locations in Kelowna.
The trio sat stone-faced, side-by-side in the prisoner's box, as the judge read her lengthy ruling. During the trial, the Crown alleged the Vancouver-based East End Hells Angels had moved to Kelowna and called themselves the K-Town Crew. The Crown alleged they were planning to establish a new chapter to take over the lucrative illegal drug trade in the Okanagan.
The judge outlined the extensive effort the Crown made during the trial, saying evidence included intercepted private communications, including telephone and audio recordings, physical surveillance, and expert evidence.
The Crown introduced evidence obtained through searches of the East End Hells Angels clubhouses in Vancouver and Kelowna, as well as Giles's residence, a storage locker, and a hidden compartment in a car. The judge did not dispute that Giles was a Hells Angels member. "Giles was the only accused who was a member of the East End Hells Angels at the times alleged on the indictment. Revell and Rempell were not members, and did not have any official status."
Outside court, Giles's lawyer, Richard Fowler, said the decision was correct. "I think it's entirely appropriate based on the evidence that was presented."
"The Crown relied primarily on two intercepted communications. Transcripts of those communications had been prepared by the police and they were inaccurate in very critical points."
Fowler said the judge was critical of the Crown's case. "The judge commented on the Crown over-stretching and over-reaching in the inferences - as they call them - to be drawn from the evidence. She said they were speculating." "And perhaps when one is attempting to go after a particular organization or a particular individual there's a greater tendency to make that mistake.