B.C. judge rules on trial-delay application for Hells Angels convicted in drug case

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A bid by two members of the Hells Angels and two of their associates to set aside their convictions in a major cocaine conspiracy owing to trial delay was dismissed by a judge Wednesday.

In September, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross found Hells Angels David Giles and Bryan Oldham and their associates, Shawn Womacks and James Howard, guilty in the drug case.

Following the convictions, the offenders applied to have a judicial stay of proceedings on the grounds that an unreasonable delay in their case had violated their rights.


Hells Angel David Giles

Hells Angel David Giles. PROVINCE

The accused had been charged in August 2012 and were convicted more than 49 months later. A recent decision on the issue of trial delay in the Supreme Court of Canada called for cases at the superior-court level to be completed within 30 months.

Giles and his co-accused argued that the delay in their case exceeded the new limit set by Canada’s highest court by a wide margin, even after consideration of delays waived by the defence and time loss due to exceptional circumstances. They argued that while there was some degree of complexity, it was not a particularly complex case.

In her reasons for judgment released Wednesday, the judge noted that the case involved the gathering of evidence in an undercover operation in Panama.

A voir dire, or trial-within-a-trial, was conducted in relation to the admissibility of the Panama evidence, with the start of the voir dire being significantly delayed and the voir dire itself being much longer than anticipated.

The accused argued that the cause of the delay was a failure by the Crown to make timely disclosure of documents, but the Crown countered that there was substantial defence delay and contended that it had properly discharged its disclosure obligations.

The judge found that the Crown had responded promptly to all requests for disclosure and added that the defence applications were not frivolous or done to create delays.

“In the present case, I conclude that this case was particularly complex,” Ross said in a summary of her ruling read out in court. “I find that the time that was taken to litigate this matter was justified and that the delay is reasonable in all of the circumstances.”

Howard, who was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to traffic and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, will have a sentencing hearing Jan. 24-25.

Giles, who was convicted of one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, one count of conspiracy to traffic and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, will have a sentencing hearing March 2-3.

Oldham, found guilty of one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, will be sentenced March 9 and Womacks, also guilty of one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, will be sentenced March 20.

The accused were arrested after an undercover police operation included meetings between the accused and cops posing as members of a drug cartel in Vancouver, Montreal, Mexico City and Panama City. A $2-million down payment for the purported delivery of 200 kilograms of cocaine was paid in June 2012 and another $2 million paid two months later.

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