The Hells Angels won another B.C. Supreme Court victory over a search warrant used last November to enter the Hardside clubhouse after a car crash involving a prospect and a Brothers Keepers gangster. Not sure yet whether there will be an appeal of this decision.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge says police did not have sufficient grounds to search a Hells Angels clubhouse last November despite a biker prospect found in a Jeep nearby with two loaded firearms.
Justice Miriam Gropper sided with lawyers for the Hells Angels Hardside chapter in quashing a search warrant executed Nov. 20 at its rented clubhouse on 96th Avenue near 180th Street in Surrey.
The warrant was issued hours after Hardside prospect Gurpreet Dhaliwal and Brothers Keepers gang associate Meninder Dhaliwal crashed the Jeep just a few blocks from the clubhouse.
When firefighters arrived just after 8 a.m., Meninder, believed to have been driving, had fled. Gurpreet was at the scene wearing his Hells Angels prospect vest. He was also found with a small bag of what was believed to be cocaine and “visible white powder on his nostrils.”
Two loaded firearms, both prohibited weapons, were found on the floor of the Jeep, Gropper noted.
“At least two cans of Nütrl Vodka Soda were on the floor of the passenger side,” she said. “Each of the firearms located on the floor of the vehicle was a semi-automatic handgun with a magazine containing seven rounds inserted, and each also had a bullet chambered.
Each of these weapons is prohibited. The fingerprint of Meninder Dhaliwal was found on the gun located on the driver’s side.”
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joel Shoihet had been conducting regular surveillance at the Hells Angels clubhouse, arriving that day at 7:55 a.m.
He saw a white Jeep Cherokee parked in front of the house, which he believed to be the same vehicle he had seen there three days earlier. A few minutes later, the Jeep left at a high rate of speed and Shoihet followed.
“The Jeep then went straight through the intersection, against the red light, and immediately collided with another vehicle,” Gropper said.
“Shoihet believed, as a consequence of his observations of the behaviour of the occupants of the Jeep, coupled with his knowledge of an existing gang conflict, that there was a possibility that firearms were present in the vehicle and warned attending firefighters not to enter the vehicle for that reason.”
Another Surrey Mountie then swore out an affidavit – known as an ITO – to obtain a search warrant for the clubhouse on the grounds that there might be evidence related to the firearms, drugs, the Jeep’s ownership, and “video or other evidence stored on electronic devices that could inform investigators about the events leading up to the collision.”
The search began late on the night of Nov. 20 and continued into the next day. Neither Dhaliwal, who are not related, has yet been charged.
The Hells Angels applied to have the warrant thrown out, and also for an order “restricting dissemination or the sharing of any photographs or information gleaned from the execution of the search warrant.”
The federal attorney general’s office argued that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Gurpreet and Meninder Dhaliwal were engaged in activities on the property (whether inside the clubhouse or elsewhere on the property).”
“It can be reasonably inferred that the activities involved both men partying all night on the property, drinking and using cocaine. They may have been handling firearms while there.”
But Gropper concluded that the ITO “as a whole, fails to support that these activities occurred on the property.”
“There is insufficient evidence to support the belief that Gurpreet and Meninder Dhaliwal were engaged in the alleged activities at the property,” Gropper ruled. “The ITO itself only states that the items may contain relevant information. This does not suggest a credibly based probability that there would be evidence of the offences at the property. The (affidavit’s) own words fall short of the legal standard required.”
Matthew Nathanson, one of the lawyers representing the Hells Angels, said: “This ruling reinforces the important threshold that must be met in order to obtain a search warrant. Solid evidence is required. Speculation by the police is insufficient. By quashing the warrant in this case, the court has maintained the integrity of the warrant process, which protects us all.”
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