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B.C.’s highest court has ruled that a lower court judge was right to throw out a search warrant used by police to get inside the Hells Angels Hardside clubhouse in November 2020.
In April 2021, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper ruled that police did not have sufficient grounds to search the Surrey clubhouse despite a Hells Angels prospect found — allegedly intoxicated — in a Jeep nearby with two loaded firearms.
Gropper quashed the search warrant that was used on Nov. 20 at the remote rented property on 96th Avenue near 180th Street in Surrey.
The Crown appealed part of the ruling, arguing that information in the search warrant supported the seizure of footage from an external surveillance camera that would have shown the Jeep leaving the clubhouse property.
But in a ruling released Tuesday, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Anne MacKenzie disagreed and upheld the original ruling in favour of the Hells Angels.
She noted that lawyers for the bikers had argued on appeal that “the investigation of the collision was used as a pretext to access the clubhouse and gather intelligence on the Hells Angels.”
“They say there was no basis upon which the warrant could have been granted,” MacKenzie said in her written reasons. “I agree with the respondents that there was no basis upon which the judicial justice (who issued the search warrant) could have concluded video surveillance footage would contain evidence of the offences under investigation.”
Appeal Court Justices Lauri Ann Fenlon and Susan Griffin concurred with MacKenzie.
Lawyer Matthew Nathanson, who represented five of the Hells Angels, said in a statement Tuesday that “the chambers judge found the search warrant to be fatally flawed.”
“The Court of Appeal unanimously agreed, stressing the need for compelling evidence, as opposed to speculation, to support a warrant. We welcome the court’s strong affirmation of this foundational principle,” he said.
The original warrant was issued hours after Hardside prospect Gurpreet Dhaliwal and Brothers Keepers gangster Meninder Dhaliwal crashed the Jeep 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.”
“The police found two cans of vodka soda and two firearms in the Jeep. One firearm was on the floor of the driver’s seat and the other was on the floor of the front passenger seat. Both firearms were fully-loaded semi-automatic pistols with prohibited magazines,” MacKenzie said.
“Meninder’s fingerprint was located on the magazine of the firearm found on the passenger side. Neither Meninder nor Gurpreet possessed a valid firearms licence.”
MacKenzie noted that Gurpreet Dhaliwal was under investigation at the time for fleeing police, obstruction and dangerous operation of a vehicle as well as being a passenger in a vehicle with a firearm. Meninder, who is not related to Gurpreet, was arrested for failing to remain at the scene of an accident, occupying a vehicle with a firearm present and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Neither Gurpreet nor Meninder were charged.
Meninder was later one of 14 gangsters featured on warning posters issued by police after an escalation in tit-for-tat violence in the Lower Mainland gang conflict. His brother Harb was gunned down on the Vancouver waterfront nine days after Gropper’s clubhouse ruling.
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