Judge skeptical Hells Angels associate was only looking for a 'fist fight' before deadly beating

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Judge skeptical Hells Angels associate was only looking for a 'fist fight' before deadly beating


Charged with manslaughter in the beating death of Dain Phillips, Kelowna brothers Matthew McRae (left) and Daniel McRae walk outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst , PNG


A lawyer for one of four Hells Angels associates accused in the fatal beating of Kelowna dad Dain Phillips argued that his client merely wanted to engage in a fist fight prior to the slaying.

In his final submissions, Sandy Ross, a lawyer for accused Daniel McRae, said that McCrae was not aware that two Hells Angels intended to exact “retribution” against the victim’s sons.

“That’s a Hells Angels motive,” said Ross. “It’s not a motive shared by Danny McRae.”

Prior to the trial of McRae and his three co-accused, two other full-patch members of the notorious motorcycle club, Norman Cocks and Rob Thomas, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Phillips.

The pair used a baseball bat and a hammer to beat to death Phillips, who court has heard was trying to help resolve a petty dispute between his two sons and McRae and his brother.

Ross told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan that there was no evidence that Danny McRae was part of any discussion about what the Hells Angels were going to do.

But the judge was skeptical of that argument, noting that Danny McRae had been involved in two incidents earlier involving the Hells Angels, including one in which Cocks punched one of the Phillips brothers, and that he set up the fateful meeting that ended in the slaying.

“And you think it’s possible to say he didn’t know what was going to happen,” said the judge.

“Yes,” said Ross, who insisted that the intention of his client and his group of “young associates” was to go out and engage in a fist fight.

“It’s separate and distinct from the intention or plan of Norm Cocks and Rob Thomas.”

But the judge said he had “real trouble” with that assertion, because McRae and the Hells Angels assembled at the home of one of the Hells Angels prior to the assault.

The judge added that there was some evidence that when the two sets of brothers got together, the McRaes “come out on the short end” and so they decide to “bring in some muscle” in the form of the Hells Angels.

“They had a different reason for wanting to do it, but the purpose is to go out and lay a licking on the Phillips'.”

Asked by the judge whether his client was aware that weapons were going to be used, Ross said McRae was unaware that any weapons would be part of the fight.

McRae, his brother Matthew McRae, Anson Schell and Robert Cocks have all pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

The Crown is expected to give final submissions later this week or early next week.

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