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This article was published 1/2/2017 (1151 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Hells Angels member who was inexplicably offended by a boy learning how to ride a bike is going to prison.
Rod Sweeney, a 48-year-old full-patch member of the notorious biker gang, received a four-year sentence Wednesday for an unprovoked attack on a teenage boy and his uncle. On August 5, 2013, the uncle was teaching his 14-year-old nephew, who'd been a child cancer patient, how to ride a bike in the back lane between Battershill Street and Moncton Avenue in East Kildonan, near Sweeney's home.
They heard an unidentified man's voice coming from Sweeney's property, asking them what they were doing and telling them they were being watched on a security camera. Shortly afterward, Sweeney drove up in an SUV and attacked them with a metal baton, breaking the boy's arm and punching his uncle repeatedly.
"Mr. Sweeney took the time to grab a metal baton, get in a vehicle with a friend and drive up to the young men in the back lane. He had time to stop and change his mind, but he did not," Court of Queen's Bench Sandra Zinchuk said Wednesday.
The judge found Sweeney guilty of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after a trial in October, at which Sweeney's defence argued he'd been away on a fishing trip at the time of the assault.
The victims didn't know Sweeney and did nothing to provoke the attack, the judge said. They didn't file victim impact statements in court because "they don't want anything to do with Mr. Sweeney," and the uncle has since moved out of his home in the neighbourhood, court heard.
"The victims were unarmed and much smaller in stature than Mr. Sweeney. For some reason, the innocent activity of bike riding aggravated Mr. Sweeney," the judge said. "His reaction was frightening, violent and inappropriate in the extreme."
Sweeney has 10 prior criminal convictions, half of which were for assaults. The Crown had recommended a four-year sentence, which the judge ultimately granted, while the defence had argued Sweeney should serve an 18-month jail sentence plus probation.
The judge decided Sweeney's Hells Angels membership wasn't "a factor" in this assault, but she didn't appear to be swayed by six letters of reference Sweeney provided describing him as a hard-working family man.
with files from Mike McIntyre
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.