THIS WEEK, INFONEWS.CA IS COUNTING DOWN THE TOP FIVE STORIES OF 2014. TODAY: NUMBER FOUR
KELOWNA – Over this past year, several known and alleged gang members found themselves in court, some staring down long sentences.
The first was in late February when John Newcombe, the owner of Cycle Logic in West Kelowna was accused of running a vehicle theft ring. Newcombe was arrested in 2012 along with two full-patch members of the Hells Angels. Police found stolen trailers, vehicles, narcotics and equipment used to make fake vehicle identification numbers. At sentencing, Judge Vincent Hogan agreed to a joint submission from defence lawyers and the Crown before handing Newcombe a surprising conditional sentence that included nine months of house arrest.
Judge Hogan appeared confused at the sentence recommended by Crown, saying he would have given a two-year prison sentence had the Crown asked for it.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “The public will be amazed at the outcome of this.”
Judge Hogan even compared Newcome to “the Taliban falling upon a convoy” and said he was “plundering the community."
“Given the number of items… a jail sentence is appropriate,” Hogan said. He also called the string of thefts “absolutely appalling” before agreeing to the conditional sentence sought by Crown.
High school feud turns deadly for Kelowna dad
In late November two full-patch members of the Hells Angels were sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2011 murder of unarmed Kelowna resident Dain Philips.
In what was the first B.C. homicide conviction of a full-patch member of the notorious biker gang, court heard how a feud started between four high school students on Facebook and ended with several Hells Angels beating Phillips with baseball bats and a hammer. Norm Cocks and Rob Thomas each received sentences of 15 years in prison. Daniel and Matthew McRae, as well as their friend Anson Schell, were also convicted of manslaughter while Robert Cocks was acquitted.
Daniel McRae was sentenced to five years in prison and Matthew to 42 months in prison.
Cache of Guns
The third high profile gangster trial of 2014 was the September verdict that found Hells Angel Joseph Bruce Skreptak and alleged gang associate Cory Montemurro both guilty of close to a dozen gun-related charges.
Montemurro and Skreptak were arrested in 2010 outside Salmon Arm when police found a cache of weapons in their vehicle during a traffic stop.
Inside the rented Jeep Grand Cherokee were four loaded guns, knives, body armour, masks, gloves, a cell phone jammer and a hand drawn map to a home Crown alleged was to be the target of intimidation.
The trial started Sept. 17 and by Sept. 30 Justice Geoff Barrow found the pair guilty of all charges. The sentencing has been put over to early 2015, due to a failed petition to change judges followed by a postponement request so the two men could spend Christmas with their families. In the end the postponement was not necessary as defence lawyers were able to delay sentencing with days of in-depth analysis of the lives of both men.
Sentencing of Montemurro and Skreptak is now scheduled for early January.
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