Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hearing into assault delayed

Hells Angel dismisses lawyer

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A well-known member of the Manitoba Hells Angels has dumped his lawyer -- just days before a hearing into allegations he broke the arm of a 14-year-old leukemia patient.

Rod Sweeney, 45, is now representing himself following Tuesday's development. He cited "a breakdown in solicitor/client relationship" as the reason for parting ways with his lawyer. No other details were provided to the court.

Sweeney's preliminary hearing has been cancelled to allow him time to find another lawyer to represent him. A new date has not been set.

Provincial court Judge Tim Preston said it would not be wise for Sweeney to be his own counsel given the serious charges he is facing -- aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

"If you're intending to get another lawyer, that has to happen fast," Preston said Tuesday.

At a bail hearing last year, Sweeney was accused by the Crown of "an unprovoked attack on a child." He was granted his release despite objections from the Crown and remains free in the community.

The teen victim and his 27-year-old uncle were accosted in August 2013 as they rode their bikes in the back lane of Molson Street near Concordia Avenue in East Kildonan. The teen has been sick with cancer for several years and never learned to ride a bike, something he was embarrassed about. His uncle was giving him secret lessons, court was told.

Things took a violent turn when a man began screaming at them from behind a fence of a nearby home. The man told the pair he'd been watching them on surveillance cameras from inside his home. He vowed to "teach you a lesson," then appeared moments later in the lane. He was carrying a large metal bar that was used to strike the boy on the arm, breaking it. The uncle was also punched repeatedly and had a bicycle thrown at him.

Sweeney, who lives in the home where the victims say the "voice" came from, was contacted by police and denied any responsibility. He agreed to turn himself in, but left the city and didn't surrender to police until eight days after the attack.

By then, police had executed a search warrant at his home on Molson. They said his surveillance system's recording device had been removed, preventing any videos from that night from being viewed.

Sweeney claims he was fishing at a friend's Gimli-area cottage at the time he was alleged to have attacked the two victims. The Crown attacked his story, suggesting the friend is trying to cover for him.

Sweeney's brother, Dale Sweeney, is the president of the Manitoba chapter of the Hells Angels and is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his role in an elaborate drug operation.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 A10

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