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Former outlaw biker given 8-year sentence for terrorizing family

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A former Winnipeg outlaw biker with a storied criminal past was handed eight years in prison today for terrorizing an innocent young family with a handgun while out looking for people responsible for attacking the mother of his children.

The prospect of rehabilitation for Kevin Sylvester, 50, was a secondary concern over denouncing his criminal actions, Judge Dale Schille said in rejecting Sylvester's lawyer's plea for a five-year total sentence for charges of possession of a restricted firearm, dangerous driving and possession of a firearm while prohibited.

Schille said Sylvester's criminal past and history of gun-related violence disentitles him to any leniency for his latest violent outburst, which erupted last fall and left investigators baffled.

The former member of the now-defunct Spartans biker gang got into a verbal dispute with a man and woman — total strangers — standing outside their minivan on King Edward Street last Oct. 1, Schille was told at a previous sentencing hearing in August.

The victims had just put their young daughters, aged 21 months and nine months, in the back of the vehicle, closed the rear doors and were about to depart when Sylvester drove up in his minivan and began asking them questions.

The Crown conceded Sylvester didn't know there were kids inside the van.

"Who are you?" he asked the mom. "What do you mean, who am I?" she replied, "Who are you looking for and what the f do you want?"

Sylvester responded by swearing and pulling out a loaded .45-calibre handgun. Seeing the gun prompted the victims to jump in their van and speed off. Sylvester gave chase for about four blocks and rammed their vehicle about 10 times while pointing the gun out his window, Crown attorney Mike Desautels said. The dad was forced to hold his kids' heads down out of fear they'd get shot, he added. No shots were fired.

The chase ended when the mom, who was driving and calling 911 at the same time, veered off by performing a sudden, "risky" 90-degree turn and lost him.

Police caught up to Sylvester outside a home on Maryland Street about 90 minutes later and recovered the gun, which Desautels described as a functional "Frankenstein gun" made up of various mismatched parts.

Court was told around the time Sylvester's ex had been hospitalized after being savagely beaten and burned. He left her hospital bedside and hit the streets in hopes of exacting revenge.

Instead of dishing out a dose of vigilante justice, "he simply attacked the wrong people," Schille said. The judge credited him for 11 months and eight days of time-already served.

"Love you man," his ex called out to him as he was led out of court.

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