Canada - A B.C. Supreme Court ruling released this week demonstrates the viciousness with which some Hells Angels attempt to intimidate members of the community.
We learned last month that Kelowna full-patch Joseph Bruce Skreptak received a 26-month jail sentence for aggravated assault after attacking the father of a teen he believed had robbed him.
But the reasons for judgment of Justice Allan Betton provide much more detail about the disturbing Nov. 1, 2010 assault.
Skreptak's stepson was a friend of the victim's son and another young man, who were both aware of Skreptak's membership in the Hells Angels.
The accused believed the two had stolen $10,000 worth of jewelry from him and had sold or pawned those items for marijuana.
Skreptak went to the house of one of the two young men and said "there were guys outside ready to beat him up," Betton noted.
That youth sent Skreptak and his muscle to the home of the victim, saying his son had taken the items.
The gang arrived at the home about 10:30 am and was asked to leave by the victim.
Skreptak hit the man "multiple times causing serious injuries to his face. A series of photographs were marked as Exhibit 1, and show the outward appearance of the injuries. In fact, and not readily visible from photographs, there were multiple fractures of facial bones requiring reconstructive surgery."
"As a result of being beaten about the face, [the man] sustained significant facial trauma. The left side of his face was pushed in and he had a fracture to the zygomatic bone above the left eye as well as a depressed fracture of the orbital rim below the left eye. Both fractures required reconstructive surgery. Jensen remained in hospital for a number of days before he could be operated on," Betton said.
All the damage was done within 15 or 20 minutes, the judge said, adding that the victim was told not to call police.
Skreptak's lawyer provided glowing reference letters and details of his work history for the judge and said his client's membership in the HA was irrelevant.
But the Crown said that the link to the biker gang was part of the intimidation used during the encounters with the two youth over the missing jewelry, as well as during the assault.
Betton concluded the HA membership was relevant because the two youth knew Skreptak was in the biker gang and because he had warned the victim not to call police.
"The second area and manner in which his membership is relevant is in respect of the accused's character. This particular event is what I think could simply be said many members of the public might expect from somebody who is a member of the Hells Angels," Betton said. "That expectation and that belief among the public, in fairness, would be based on stereotyping, unconfirmed, unproven understandings, even, some might argue, urban myths. The reality is that no one who is an informed, educated, intelligent individual, such as Mr. Skreptak, can be unaware in today's society, in this province, in this community, of the connotation that is attached to being a member of the Hells Angels."
Despite all the character references and Skreptak's lack of a criminal record at the time, his membership in the Hells Angels is a negative, Betton said.
"Even if he is not engaged in violent or criminal conduct, and I have no basis upon which to conclude that he has been through his membership with the Hells Angels, it is an organization that, as I have said, has an obvious reputation, and no person who has only the positive attributes that are described in the reference letters would see, even if they were not engaged in criminal activity, a benefit or anything positive from such a membership with that organization. It is, as I have concluded, a negative feature in terms of his general character," he said. Skreptak is a former member of the East End Chapter who was one of the first to move to Kelowna to set up a chapter of the notorious biker gang there. That chapter formally opened in the summer of 2007.
He was also named last fall as a defendant in the B.C. government's civil case to get the Kelowna clubhouse forfeited as an instrument of criminal activity.
As well, Skreptak awaits trial on several firearms counts related to the seizure of weapons in Salmon Arm a few weeks after the Kelowna assault.