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This article was published 8/11/2021 (284 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When three members and associates of the Hells Angels showed up in the middle of the night at the home of a man who had crossed one of them, it was at his own invitation, a jury has been told.
"When you hear about the Hells Angels it’s very easy to be frightened and easy to believe they did something wrong," defence lawyer Alex Steigerwald said in a closing argument Monday. "That’s exactly what the Crown wants you to think and that’s why they have made this case about the Hells Angels and not about a break and enter."
Jack Shore, 68, a full-patch member of the Winnipeg Hells Angels chapter since its inception in 2001, "prospect" Dylan Hutchinson, 24, and "hangaround" David Saunders, 47, are on trial, charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit assault and breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence in support of a criminal organization. Shore faces an additional count of uttering threats.
Police arrested the three men after they went to an Inglewood Street home Jan. 5, 2019, wearing gang vests and shirts and allegedly tried to force their way inside.
Court has heard a resident of the house, Richard Wonder, had been communicating with a woman over Facebook for sex when the woman, Shore’s then-girlfriend, told him to stop harassing her or she would have her boyfriend beat him up. Wonder and Shore then exchanged a series of heated text messages before Shore and his two co-accused drove up to the house two hours later.
Prosecutors argue Shore, Hutchinson and Saunders wore their gang colours in a clear act of intimidation and, by extension, in support of committing an offence for a criminal organization, the Hells Angels.
But to prove a break and enter occurred, jurors have to be satisfied the three accused did not have Wonder’s consent to be there, something Wonder, by his own testimony, clearly provided, defence lawyers argued.
Testifying last week, Wonder told jurors Shore, during an exchange on Facebook Messenger, warned him to stay away from his girlfriend or he would "tune (him) up."
"I was like, ‘Bring it on, I’m not afraid," Wonder told court. "I didn’t know who he was or his friends. I didn’t care if they came down with weapons or guns. I had my baseball bat and my uncle’s sawed-off shotgun."
Wonder’s words couldn’t be more explicit in their intention, said Steigerwald, Shore’s lawyer.
"He may not have expected anyone to show up, but he testified he was fine if they did," he said. "It could not be a more clear invitation to fight. An invitation was offered and accepted and Jack Shore went."
Eric Wach, Hutchinson’s lawyer, described Wonder as a dangerous man with a history of violence, "the exact kind of person who would invite people to fight at his house."
"I was like, ‘Bring it on, I’m not afraid. I didn’t know who he was or his friends. I didn’t care if they came down with weapons or guns. I had my baseball bat and my uncle’s sawed-off shotgun." — Richard Wonder
Prosecutor Mike Desautels downplayed Wonder’s testimony as bravado, calling him a "keyboard warrior," who, if he was serious about fighting Shore, would have provided his address.
"He didn’t want to look weak," Desautels said. "The truth is he had no idea he was talking to a full-patch member of the Hells Angels."
Prosecutors argued one or more of the accused forced a front porch door open – constituting a break and enter — before banging loudly on an inside door.
But defence lawyers said there was no evidence the porch door had been damaged or that the door was locked. Shore, they said, was the only one of the three accused to enter the porch, and after asking Wonder to come outside, left without trying to enter the house.
"They had no intention to enter that house," Steigerwald said.
Prosecutors framed the three accused men’s alleged actions as a defence of the "power of the patch," which holds that any sign of disrespect must be met with swift retribution.
"This was more than a personal offence… this was an offence against the reputation of the Hells Angels brand," Desautels said.
Saunders, who is representing himself at trial, said prosecutors are trying to make the Hells Angels "look like boogiemen."
"There was no break and enter, no assault," he said. "This had nothing to do with the Hells Angels. The Crown has not proven its case."
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.