Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Judge allows unusual evidence for Biker Club trial

A Nova Scotia judge has allowed prosecutors to employ a little-used type of evidence called "Extrinsic Evidence" in an attempt to prove the Bacchus Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization.

NOVA SCOTIA, CA (November 1, 2016) Normally, extrinsic evidence — something that shows similar misconduct — isn’t allowed at trial. But, in a decision released Monday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski ruled it will be permitted in the case against Duayne Jamie Howe, Patrick Michael James and David John Pearce, three alleged Bacchus members facing charges of uttering threats and intimidation to protect their territory.

“I conclude that the probative value of the proposed evidence outweighs any prejudicial effect on the fair trial rights of Mr. James, and that this is also true in relation to Mssrs. Howe and Pearce,” Rosinski said.

Police arrested James, and Pearce, both of Dartmouth, and Howe, of Grand Desert, in the fall of 2012. All three are slated to go to trial in the next few months.

The charges involve an alleged victim, named only as R.M., who is described as “a simple motorcycle enthusiast,” in court documents, who wanted to set up a recreational motorcycle club in Halifax County.

R.M. “decided that the club should have its own distinctive name, and logo,” to sew on members’ jackets, as well as a patch indicating they were from Nova Scotia, said Rosinski’s decision.

“Before doing so, he searched the Internet, and became convinced that he should first seek the approval of the most prominent motorcycle club in the area; consequently he sought out the approval of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club.”

R.M. “had ongoing communications and personal meetings with Patrick James, who held himself out as the representative of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club for such purposes,” said the judge’s decision.

“Mr. James persuaded him that he could not have a motorcycle club with a ‘three patch’ design as it would be seen as a provocation and sign of disrespect by existing ‘three patch’ motorcycle clubs in Nova Scotia (including the Bacchus Motorcycle Club).”

At some point in the summer of 2012, James approved R.M.’s modified proposal for a single patch that said “The Brotherhood,” associated with a motorcycle club of that name from Montreal.

In late August, R.M. and his friends traveled to Montréal for a short vacation.

An unidentified Bacchus Motorcycle Club Member

“On their return, while at the airport on August 26, one of his club members received a phone call from a neighbour that there were five members of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club at his house looking for him; shortly thereafter, R.M. received a number of text messages in close succession from Patrick James — ‘was hoping to run into you today. If I don't hear from you, I will just pop in your office tomorrow’ — and ‘in Montréal by chance?’ — and — ‘will see you as soon as you get back. Don't waste your dollars on any souvenirs’ — and ‘saw you three came out of the closet on Facebook.’ ”

A “very upset” James allegedly visited R.M. at his office the next day, wearing his leather Bacchus vest.

“‘What the f*** were you thinking? Do you think you could get away with something like that? I f***ing told you that you are not having a f***ing patch,” James allegedly told R.M.

R.M. interjected: “You told me no three-piece — you told me that the Brotherhood name was OK."

But James allegedly denied that was the case. “I f***ing told you that you were not to have a f***ing Montréal Brotherhood patch down here and you went ahead and f***ing did it. We were driving around the whole weekend looking for you because of that picture that went on Facebook, you guys getting patched over in Montréal... because those were coming off your back... you f***ing disrespected us. You more or less or might as well have told us to go f*** ourselves by putting those patches on your back.”

James offered R.M. a way to appease Bacchus. He was to take photos of their clothing and patches being cut up and email them to James, and let the Montreal club know it had no chapter in Halifax.

“R.M. had discussions with his own club members and they decided they should have their cut-to-pieces vests/patches personally turned over to Patrick James; another member of R.M.’s club delivered the remnants of their vests to Mr. James who was in the company of four or five members of the Darksiders Motorcycle Club,” say court documents.

While that appeared to appease Bacchus members, two weeks later R.M. ran into six of them at a charity event wearing their regalia.

“Mr. Howe and Mr. Pearce were among them and in close proximity to R.M., at which point Mr. Howe angrily said to him – ‘I'm telling you right f***ing now, get on your f***ing bike and get the f*** out of here. You're not f***ing welcome here. The only reason why we don't kick the living s*** out of you right f***ing now is because there's too many f***ing people around. You're not welcome at any f***ing biking event in Nova Scotia... I'm telling you to get the f*** out of here right now or you're going to get the s*** kicked out of you... What makes you think you can f***ing disrespect us and then show your f***ing face around here?... Oh, getting the f***ing patch from Montréal? You didn't f***ing disrespect us?... You go f***ing say your hellos, put your money in, and get on your bike and get the f*** out of here, and we don't want to see you anywheres at any events in Nova Scotia. You are f***ing done.’”

R.M., his wife and friends were frightened by these events, said Monday’s decision. The next day, Sept. 15, 2012, R.M. called police. Within days of his giving a statement, police arrested James, Pearce, and Howe, and executed search warrants on the Bacchus clubhouse on Hogan Road in Nine Mile River and homes on Renfrew Road and Elmwood Road in Dartmouth and Dyke Road in Grand Desert.

Investigators allegedly seized vests bearing Bacchus identification, as well as marijuana, magic mushrooms, computers and mobile phones.

At trial, the Crown is expected to try and “establish that the Bacchus Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization, and was so at the time of these offences, and that Mssrs. Howe, Pearce and James were then acting for the organization,” the judge said.

Prosecutors hope to use the evidence of another unnamed witness, dubbed S.H. in the decision released Monday, that they expect to be relevant in the case against all three men.

Defence lawyers for the three accused “argued that the probative value of the evidence is greatly outweighed by the prejudice to the fair trial rights of Mr. James and the defendants generally, and it should therefore be ruled inadmissible.”

S.H. testified that he bought a Harley Davidson in 2009, but was not interested in joining a recreational motorcycle club, despite repeated and “persistent” requests. He eventually made up a fictitious patch for a fictitious club called the Wolverines and put it on his vest along with the words Nova Scotia so people would stop bothering him.

“He had a picture taken from the back, while wearing his unique motorcycle jacket with the three-piece patch on the back. He made it his profile picture on his Facebook page,” say court documents.

In December of 2011, “a couple of members of the Darksiders [motorcycle club]” told S.H. he couldn’t wear that patch.

“I showed them a picture of it, and they said: You can’t wear that patch. There is already a club in Nova Scotia that has that, has ‘Nova Scotia’ on it, so you have to take that off. And in the spring of 2012 as well — I think it was about April or May — a couple of them sort of reinforced that idea that I couldn’t wear that and they told me I had to take the ‘Nova Scotia’ part off of it and the ‘MC’ part off as well. So I don’t think I wore it on my bike. I just had it for a profile picture. It looks good.... at that time we had a bit of a conversation on my property, in front of my barn, and at that time I think I told them that if they saw me wearing the patch, they should take it. And I wasn’t really afraid of them taking it off, because I never wore it.”

Around the end of June 2012, S.H. received a private Facebook message from James.

“He was kind of concerned about, I guess this back patch... So I blocked him. And got in touch with the RCMP to see what this was all about. At that point in time, the RCMP gave me a bit of counselling as to how to handle this, and they suggested that I unblock him and carry on the conversation to try to smooth it over, because I didn’t want to run into any trouble over a fictitious motorcycle patch and motorcycle club. So I unblocked and we carried on a bit of conversation over the course of, I think a couple of days.”

James allegedly carried on a written exchange with S.H. where he eventually agreed not to wear the patches.

“Succinctly put, the Crown alleges that during January–September 2012, Mr. James’s conduct in relation to both R.M. and S.H. reveals that he intervened in the lives of both these recreational motorcycle enthusiasts to ensure that they did not wear or display a ‘three patch’ combination regarding their real or made-up ‘motorcycle clubs,’” said the judge.

“The Crown will argue that his conduct in relation to R.M. was criminal. They say that his conduct in relation to S.H. is relevant, material and should be admissible in this trial involving R.M., because it provides direct or indirect proof of ‘the essential elements of establishing that the Bacchus Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization … and that the offences in question were committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with that criminal organization.’ "

SOURCE: Local Xpress