In law enforcement, some victories take a long time. This week, Brockville police celebrated one such victory.
On Tuesday, two Brockville men, Tom Bell and Norman Rosbottom, Jr., were convicted of a string of charges stemming from a biker gang raid in the city three years ago.
“It sends a clear message to any organized crime, but more specifically bikers,” Brockville Police Det.-Cst. Mike Grant said Thursday.
“For us to have netted a full-patch and a probationary patch, respectively, in Tom and Norman, I feel like it helps send a message.”
Grant, as well as Det.-Cst. Graham Coe, played significant roles in the lengthy investigation.
Bell, 45, was found guilty of participating in a criminal organization, directing the commission of an indictable offence for a criminal organization, assault causing bodily harm, assault, robbery and kidnapping, said police.
Rosbottom, 44, was found guilty of participating in a criminal organization, assault causing bodily harm, assault, robbery with violence, kidnapping, uttering threats and trafficking cocaine, police added.
The pair are expected back in court on Jan. 24 to set a date for sentencing. In the meantime, Bell remains out on bail under strict conditions, while Rosbottom is in custody.
Grant and Staff Sgt. Tom Fournier on Thursday said the convictions cap a process that began in 2016 with reports of activity by the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in the city, and would not have been possible without the help of witnesses from the community.
“These types of investigation, they’re not a sprint; they’re a marathon,” said Fournier.
“It’s the culmination of about five years’ worth of work.”
That work involved multiple police agencies, but from the Brockville police alone it required the efforts of 28 people, both uniformed officers and civilian staff, they said.
What started with reports of biker activity in 2016 led to a more focused investigation in 2018, they added, and in December of that year, city police, with the help of the Ontario Provincial Police’s Biker Enforcement Unit, the Belleville Police Service and Kingston Police Service, executed a search warrant at 283 Park Street and Apartment 17 at 16 Cartier Court, in relation to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club and an Outlaws support club, the Dead Eyes Motorcycle Club.
Bell and Rosbottom were among three men charged as a result of those raids, while a fourth man was picked up later.
Earlier, in September 2018, police arrested two people in connection with drug and weapons offences with biker gang links following a raid at 21 Sevenoaks Avenue. Four other people later turned themselves in.
Other matters connected to this biker blitz remain before the courts, leading police to be sparing in specific details related to these cases, but Fournier said the kidnapping and other violent charges relate to incidents involving other club members or people known to the offenders.
While motorcycle gangs continue to have a presence in Brockville, those 2018 police operations had a noticeable effect, with the number of violent home invasions and other violent incidents involving the Outlaws dropping significantly, said the officers.
Grant said the witnesses who helped secure these convictions “spanned all demographics and social status,” from homeless people struggling with addiction to neighbourhood residents.
The officers also credited the lead Crown Attorney, Alan Findlay, for getting these convictions.
At the height of the violent biker gang activity, they added, people who otherwise would never phone the police were calling in to report the trouble.
“The neighbours at Sevenoaks were extremely happy” after the raid, said Fournier.