Jail for Angel in bike gang killings

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The Independent Online
A HELLS ANGEL who planned an attack on a rival motorcycle gang in a bitter supremacy battle which left two men dead was yesterday jailed for 15 years.

Gang members from across the country armed themselves with baseball bats, knives and axes before carrying out the attack on a London group. Ringleaders, who pointed out those to be attacked, co-ordinated the assault using microphone headsets.

Yesterday at the Old Bailey, Ronald Wait, a father-of-two, was jailed for 15 years for his part in organising the attack. Though the prosecution did not proceed with a murder charge against him, the judge told Wait he believed the men who died had been "ruthlessly executed".

The court heard that the attack was the result of an on-going battle for supremacy between Britain's motorbike gangs. Wait, 44, known as "Gut" because of his 18-stone bulk, was vice-president of the Essex chapter of the Hells Angels, known as the Hatchet Crew. Its rivals, members of a motorbike gang based in London, were known as the Outcasts.

The attack, carried out in Battersea, south London, last January, took place during a concert attended by the Outcasts, Orlando Pownall, for the prosecution, told the court.

In the "brutal, planned and premeditated" assault two men were killed and a third seriously injured. Malcolm St Clair, 35, was attacked by two gang members armed with an axe and a knife. He was stabbed eight times in his chest, abdomen, back and hand.

Wait was allegedly seen to be carrying an axe and was charged with Mr St Clair's murder, but the prosecution did not proceed with the charge after the jury failed to reach a verdict after nearly four days' deliberations.

David Armstrong, 33, was beaten and stabbed by a group of rivals as he parked his motorbike. He was stabbed four times in his abdomen and left leg and his lungs were pierced.

Judge Geoffrey Grigson told Wait, from Dagenham, Essex: "You took an active part in conspiring to cause grievous bodily harm - a conspiracy which led to the death of two men. In truth they were executed in a manner that was as ruthless as it was arrogant."

Earlier, the prosecution had offered no evidence against Raymond Woodward, who was accused of Mr Armstrong's murder, and Barry Hollings-worth, who was charged with both murders, before their Old Bailey trial was due to start.

Mr Pownall had told the judge: "The reason for the Crown's decision is the witnesses who give material evidence in respect of each have declined to come to court. It would not be prudent in the circumstances for me to go into the reasons for it."

Police said yesterday that the investigation into the killings remained open, though they realised there was a problem with encouraging witnesses to come forward.

"We have always insisted we would not force them to come to court. Whether real or imagined, there was a perception of risk," said Detective Inspector Geoff Hyams.

Historically the relationship between the Hells Angels and Outcasts was reasonable but officers believe this changed after British Angels were warned by their American counterparts to combat the rise of rival motorcycle clubs.

After yesterday's verdict, the father of Mr Armstrong said he hoped that the violence between the two groups was over. Bob Armstrong, from Belfast, said: "We would not like anyone from any organisation to go out and seek retribution on his behalf."

Mr Armstrong's girlfriend, Sue Grimoldby, said the former soldier had been "loving, extremely sociable, stubborn and determined". She added: "Now our son, Scott, will have to grow up without a father."

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