Hitman who tried to kill Hells Angel at Vancouver airport handed 11-year sentence

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Knowah Ferguson, now 21, jailed for attempted murder and conspiracy for failed hit

An Ontario hitman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for trying to kill a high-profile Hells Angel at Vancouver International Airport more than three years ago.

Knowah Ferguson, now 21, travelled from Ontario in March 2015 with plans to shoot Damion Ryan.

Ferguson was arrested two months after the failed hit in April 2015, and later pleaded guilty to attempted murder and conspiracy.

In sentencing, Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten said sentencing was difficult because Ferguson was a young, first-time offender convicted of one of the most serious crimes under Canadian law.

"Sentencing is often described as a 'delicate' and, at times, 'agonizing' task," she wrote in her reasons, released Thursday.

"This is one of those cases."

Attempted shooting

Ferguson had just turned 18 when he bussed from Hamilton, Ont., to Vancouver to make "quick and easy" money doing criminal work, according to court documents.

He told one of his co-conspirators, known only as Witness X as their identity is protected by a publication ban, that they could make $200,000 for the airport hit.

Ferguson planned to shoot Ryan, a full-patch member of the Hells Angels, in the food court while the target sat with an associate from the United Nations gang, who had set him up.

On April 10, Ferguson, disguised in a burka, walked up to Ryan, lifted a gun to the back of his head and pulled the trigger.

The firearm jammed and all of the men escaped the airport.

High-profile Hells Angel Damion Ryan was the target of the hit at the Vancouver International Airport on April 10, 2015. (CBC)

An RCMP officer with weapon drawn at the Vancouver International Airport. (The Canadian Press)

After the failed hit, Ferguson, Witness X and a third man, Gino McCall, discussed plans for a second shooting and began preparing for the hit, gathering more guns and staking out a location.

On one occasion, they travelled to Surrey, B.C., to commit the murder, but returned to Vancouver when they couldn't find their target.

The men were arrested on firearms offences after the stolen truck they'd been using was spotted by its owner in Vancouver, two months after the attempted hit at the airport.

Factors in sentencing

In her sentencing, DeWitt-Van Oosten said the "considerable" premeditation and planning were among the aggravating factors in Ferguson's sentence.

His previously clean criminal record, challenging childhood and remorse for his crimes, however, mitigated his sentence.

Ferguson was handed seven years for attempted murder and four years for conspiracy. He received 1,623 days' credit for time served and will serve the remainder consecutively — leaving him with a little more than six years to spend behind bars.

Witness X pleaded guilty to a firearms offence and was sentenced to a little more than three years in prison in January 2017.

McCall, who had a lengthy criminal record, was handed seven years for conspiracy to commit murder in November 2017.

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