Robert (Bobby) Pilon, onetime president of the Outlaws biker gang’s Ottawa chapter, looks older, and surprisingly more refined after 18 years in prison and this week presented himself in court as a changed man, far removed from the afternoon — Feb. 5, 2004 — he shot a rival in the back at a funeral reception for children.
It was six days after Chelsea and Cole Rodgers, just 10 and 7, were killed in a firebombing, when a longtime feud between Pilon, then 46, and drug dealer Marshall McKinnon, 56, turned deadly.
Pilon was in court this week after filing an application under the faint-hope clause, which allows lifers to apply for early parole eligibility after serving 15 years. A jury decided to allow Pilon, now 64, to apply for parole on Feb. 6, 2023, six years earlier than the automatic sentence issued in first-degree murder cases.
The faint-hope application was successfully argued by lawyer Brian Callender with Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger presiding.
Court heard that Bobby Pilon is no longer afraid to walk away from a fight. “It takes a bigger man to walk away,” Pilon said.
He said he feels remorse and is more patient than he was 18 years ago, when he kept a shotgun in his truck for protection.
Court heard that Pilon has been a model inmate who won the trust of prison staff to be assigned as a cleaner of an office building for parole workers.
In prison, he’s gone from denial to responsibility and has advised other inmates not to make the mistakes he made. “It saves a lot of people heartache,” Pilon told the court.
Pilon’s daughter testified at his hearing, saying that her father has changed for the better and he has her full support when he’s released from prison.
Pilon told Crown attorney Julie Scott that he wasn’t afraid to be released from prison. Friends and family who testified at his hearing offered support for Pilon’s gradual release back into the community, including housing and job opportunities.
Court heard that Pilon had a horrific childhood, witnessing a friend die in a pickup truck fire at nine years old. A few years later, he witnessed a horrific crash involving family friends. Three years later, at 15, his mother died. A year later, he was kicked out of the home and left school.
He did well in school considering that he was beat up by Anglophones because he had a French last name, and he was beaten by Francophones because he spoke English. He worked several jobs and once worked for Le Droit, the Francophone newspaper based in Ottawa, but he got fired two days later when they realized he didn’t actually speak French.
“We grew up with the old school ways — that a man fights the fight and brothers look out for each other … Pilons don’t cry … if you cried, you had a reason to cry,” he told his parole officer.
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