Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Case history

Hells Angels associates free on dark day for Crown

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The rise and fall of the case against the Hells Angels:

December 2001: The former Los Brovos motorcycle gang receives full status as a Hells Angels chapter in Winnipeg, following several years of negotiations and development.

April 8, 2002: Four associates of the Hells Angels are arrested in a series of firebombings, extortion attempts and witness and police intimidation. One of those arrested is Robert Sousa Coquete, who would later agree to become a Crown witness. Eventually nine men are charged, although charges are stayed against four of them, leaving only Harold Amos, Sean Wolfe, Ralph Moar, Ian Grant and gang member Dale Donovan to face justice.

July 5, 2002: Manitoba Justice says it may use new federal gang-busting legislation for the first time against the gang members in a giant mega-trial.

August 10, 2002: The accused say they are considering legal action against police and justice officials for malicious prosecution.

January 21, 2003: The Crown says it is considering a direct indictment against them, paving the way for the massive gang trial.

Feb. 20, 2003: The Crown officially charges Amos, Wolfe, Moar, Grant and Donovan. Charges are later stayed against four other associates. Much of the evidence against them had been supplied by Coquete and through more than 120,000 phone taps.

Aug. 12, 2003: Defence lawyers say the mega trial may have to be delayed because of ongoing legal issues and questions about disclosure.

Sept. 4, 2003: The province offers $2.4 million to five defence lawyers, but they reject it, saying it's not nearly enough.

Oct. 27, 2003: The Free Press reveals the RCMP have paid Coquete $100,000, a figure that was growing by $4,000 a month, for his testimony. It's also revealed that a second biker associate, Arthur Pereira, signed a similar deal with the RCMP to receive protection and financial assistance in exchange for his testimony.

Nov. 27, 2003: Lawyers for the accused men quit the case, saying they weren't being paid enough money.

Dec. 11, 2003: The five lawyers return to the case following a mediated settlement.

Feb. 16, 2004: A senior Manitoba prosecutor says Winnipeg police may have committed criminal acts when dealing with a confidential informant involved in the case.

April 15, 2003: Manitoba Justice attempts to use post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism legislation to withhold potentially explosive information that could cause the high-profile case to collapse. The federal legislation is repealed later by Ottawa.

April 20, 2004: The informants in the case allege they were threatened and tricked into making statements.

May 16, 2004: The province says it plans to hire extra sheriff's officers and court workers and expand its prosecutions office to handle the trial.

June 24, 2004: The case collapses after the Crown says one of its key witnesses is unreliable.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2004 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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