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Outlaw bikers ride free as case against them collapses

March 12, 2009

Outlaw bikers ride free as case against them collapses

The six-and-a-half year prosecution of Outlaw bikers came to an abrupt and unexpected end today when the Crown said their key witness was no longer available.  

It was a dramatic end to one of the longest cases ever at the Middlesex County Court house.

The Crown withdrew 17 charges against Mario Parente, 60, who was the national president of the Outlaws motorcycle club and nine charges against Luis Ferreira, 33, both of Hamilton.

Crown prosecutor Alex Smith told Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton the “principal witness” in the case “has advised us that he is no longer prepared to testify at the trial.”

A trial that was expected to last months was scheduled to begin in April.

Smith said the witness’s evidence was essential for the Crown’s case.

Parente and Ferreira were two of dozens of people charged in Sept. 25, 2002, and brought to London as part of Project Retire, a joint police investigation targeting the motorcycle club.

It was considered the largest prosecution at the London courthouse.

Forty-eight were convicted of both Criminal Code and drug charges. Fifteen pleaded guilty to criminal-organization charges.

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