Claim of dad being a supporter of Hells Angels stalls trial

Defence claims father is a supporter of motorcycle club and that would speak to his credibility.

Scales of justice

Scales of justice

Update: March 22, 2018 — The B.C. Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. T.J.B. was acquitted at that second trial.

ORIGINAL: 

Arguments about a father being a supporter of the Hells Angels temporarily halted a trial into the alleged sexual abuse of his son.

The father, whose name is covered by a publication ban to shield the identity of his 12-year-old boy, was testifying in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton on Thursday during the trial of Oliver resident T.J.B.

T.J.B., 23, is charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault in relation to offences alleged to have occurred from June 2011 through August 2012.

During his cross-examination of the father, defence counsel Michael Welsh asked the man if he is a member or supporter of the Hells Angels. The father didn’t answer and instead asked Welsh how the question was relevant.

Welsh, in response to the same question from Justice Catherine Bruce, explained that the father’s relationship with the motorcycle group would speak to the father’s credibility, and also come up later when T.J.B. takes the stand in his own defence.

After a 10-minute adjournment during which Crown and defence met privately outside the courtroom, the trial resumed and the judge allowed the question.

The father then admitted he’s a Hells Angels supporter, and allowed later that he’d sold marijuana as a teenager and also a few years ago “to help a friend.”

Crown counsellor Catherine Crockett told the judge she expects the issues to arise again when the defence suggests the father convinced his son to “make up” stories about abuse “to keep T.J.B. from telling the police about the drug activity” of his father.

Earlier in the trial, the father testified that his son’s relationship with T.J.B. began with the older man acting as a “big brother-type,” and that the pair grew closer as time passed.

“Maybe a little bit too close, now that I’m thinking back,” the father said, adding later that T.J.B. often followed the boy around and “wouldn’t leave him alone.”

His son then turned into a recluse when his relationship with T.J.B. ended, the father continued.

“He went from being an extrovert into being a shelled-off introvert,” the father said, and “didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to go anywhere.”

The father testified that he too suffered abuse as a child and recognized the warning signs in his boy, but waited until March 2013 to ask his son about his time with T.J.B..

The boy’s mom is the final Crown witness and began her testimony late Thursday morning. It’s unlikely the trial will conclude during the five days scheduled this week.

On the first day of the hearing, the judge ordered members of a motorcycle group called the Urban Bulldogs Against Kids Abuse to remove their black, leather vests while in the courthouse.

While group members said they were at the trial only to support the victim, the judge was concerned the vests could intimidate people.