'Biased' witness opinions inadmissible in forfeiture case against Kelowna Hells Angels clubhouse | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Biased' witness opinions inadmissible in forfeiture case against Kelowna Hells Angels clubhouse

The Hells Angels clubhouse on Ellis Street in Kelowna is pictured in this screen capture from Google Streetview.
Image Credit: Google Streetview
March 07, 2019 - 3:22 PM

KELOWNA - The Director of Civil Forfeiture's case for seizing three Hells Angels clubhouses, including one in Kelowna, hit a snag recently when a B.C. judge deemed that some testimony from an expert witness was inadmissible due to bias.

In a written decision dated March 1, Justice Barry Davies said portions of the testimony from retired Ontario police staff sergeant Leonard Isnor regarding the Hells Angels clubhouses is inadmissible because it showed clear signs of confirmation bias.

Justice Davies stated that while Isnor, who served as an police officer for 34 years, is qualified to speak on certain aspects of gang culture, he is not qualified to provide opinions on the role of the Hells Angels clubhouses in relation to their values, activities and culture.

The Director of Civil Forfeiture is gunning for Hells Angels clubhouses in Nanaimo, East Vancouver and Kelowna, claiming they're instruments for unlawful activity. 

Justice Davies, in a detailed summation, outlined several instances in Isnor's investigation of the Nanaimo and East Vancouver clubhouses where the retired officer showed clear signs of confirmation bias. Isnor was noted as someone who interprets evidence, or even a lack thereof, as supportive of his beliefs about the Hells Angels' criminal activity.

Justice Davies detailed how Isnor inspected the exterior of the Kelowna clubhouse on Jan. 14, 2016, as well as the interior on March 4, 2016. He took 156 photos of the building and its contents. Isnor included commentary and interpretation of these photos in his report.

Davies said these comments are inadmissible as expert evidence because they were speculative and showed confirmation bias. Isnor's comments that were deemed biased included describing the building's fencing as protection from rival gangs and an impediment for law enforcement, stating a motorcycle was put in the building's driveway before he started his inspection to intimidate him and "prove a point," and claiming a children's area was only set up in the clubhouse for his inspection.

Isnor also provided his opinion on the comings and goings of club members from the Kelowna location based on a 2012 report. Davies deemed these observations inadmissible as well because Isnor based some of his conclusions on second hand hearsay sources. Davies said Isnor's interpretation of club members intentions, such as saying a member used a taxi to elude police, was once again speculative.

Davies said he has to see all evidence and submissions in the trial before he can fully determine to what extent he can rely on Isnor's conclusions and opinions.

The civil forfeiture case against the Hells Angels has been ongoing for several years, although that hasn't stopped Kelowna members from using the clubhouse.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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