By: Kim Bolan
Nanaimo Hells Angel Robert (Fred) Widdifield has lost a last-ditch bid to get B.C.’s highest court to take another look at his extortion and theft convictions.
The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld Widdifield’s convictions this summer in a unanimous ruling.
But the veteran biker then applied in September to reopen the appeal on the grounds that the delays in the case violated his Charter rights.
He argued that a July Supreme Court of Canada ruling — stating that lengthy delays in prosecutions violated the Charter — should be applied in his case.
On Tuesday, the B.C. appeal court rejected that argument.
“We conclude that this court has no jurisdiction to reopen an appeal that has been heard on the merits where an order dismissing the conviction appeal has been entered,” said the ruling, signed by Justices Mary Saunders, Nicole Garson and David Harris.
“We would grant the Crown’s application to quash Mr. Widdifield’s application to reopen his conviction appeal.”
In December 2014, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found that Widdifield was part of the plot to strong-arm a former friend into handing over money and property, including a yacht named Dream Chaser.
The longtime pal, identified only as J.H. in court, went to police in 2010 after being repeatedly threatened by another Nanaimo Hells Angel named Rajinder Sandhu, who claimed J.H. hadn’t repaid a $62,000 loan to a Nanaimo woman.
J.H. was told he would have to repay the debt, plus “a ‘stupid tax’ for his alleged unauthorized use of the club’s name and reputation.”
After months of meetings and text messages, J.H. was forced to turn over his yacht, which he had purchased for $137,000.
Widdifield was with Sandhu during the subsequent sale of the boat. And Widdifield later hosted a meeting at his house during which J.H. was assaulted and ordered to pay even more money.
Widdifield is an original member of the Nanaimo chapter of the notorious bike gang, which started in July 1983 along with the Vancouver and White Rock chapters.
He was sentenced to five years in jail for the extortion conviction.