Ex-Hells Angels hit man seeks early parole under ‘faint hope’ clause

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A former Hells Angels hit man turned police informant is trying to get out of prison early using the so-called “faint hope” clause in the Criminal Code that allows convicted murderers to apply for parole after serving 15 years of their 25 year sentence.

Stéphane “Godasse” Gagné, 43, is one of the most high-profile informants to testify against the Hells Angels in Quebec.

He became an informer in 1997 after police told him they had evidence that he was involved in the killing of two Quebec prison guards that year.

His testimony was crucial in bringing down former Hells leader Maurice “Mom” Boucher, who was convicted in 2002 of ordering the deaths of two prison guards in an attempt to destabilize Quebec’s justice system.

As part of his deal with police, Gagné is allowed to request to go before a jury, which will determine if he deserves a chance at early parole. The jury can reduce the parole eligibility, but the final decision on parole rests with the National Parole Board.

Gagné pleaded guilty in 1998 to the murder of prison guard Diane Lavigne and the attempted murder of guard Robert Corriveau.

The Conservative government abolished the “faint hope” clause in 2011 as part of its get tough on crime policy. However, inmates who were sentenced before December 2011 remain eligible to apply for the provision.

Gagné’s lawyer will be in court on March 17, when the Crown will decide whether to contest his application. If his application is successful, a jury might not hear the case before 2015 because of a backlog of cases at the Montreal courthouse, a prosecutor said on Monday.

Also on Monday, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the murder conviction of Hells Angel Paul Fontaine, who was found guilty in 2009 of the first-degree murder of provincial prison guard Pierre Rondeau and the attempted murder of Rondeau’s colleague, Robert Corriveau.

On Sept. 8, 1997, Rondeau and Corriveau were ambushed by two gunmen who fired shots into the inmate-transport bus in which they were riding.

Fontaine was arrested in Quebec City several years after the killing after hiding out in Alberta and Mexico. Gagné, who participated in the shootings, testified against his former associate during the trial saying it was Fontaine who planned the ambush.

Fontaine’s lawyer appealed the conviction saying his client was not given a fair trial because of irregularities during the proceedings.

Among the controversies was an experiment one juror did in his spare time to see if a person could climb onto the front bumper of an inmate-transport bus and fire a gun. The juror failed to climb on to the bumper. The juror also discussed his failed experiment with one of two other jurors outside the deliberation room. People selected for a jury are instructed not to discuss the case among themselves, outside of deliberation.

At the time, Fontaine’s lawyer demanded a mistrial after learning what happened, but Justice Marc David decided that giving the jury a refresher on the rules would suffice.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Fontaine received a fair trial.

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katherine Wilton
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montrealgazette.com




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