Motorcycle gang jailed for Hell's Angel murder

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Seven members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang were jailed today for life for murdering a Hell's Angel.

The entire South Warwickshire chapter of the Outlaws was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after being convicted of shooting Gerry Tobin as he rode along the M40 on 12 August last year.



Two shots were fired at the 35-year-old biker from two different handguns as he returned to his London home from the Hell's Angel Bulldog Bash festival in Warwickshire.



One of the bullets skimmed the base of Mr Tobin's helmet, lodging in his skull and killing him instantly.



During the seven weeks of evidence, the jury was told that the mechanic was targeted by the rival gang simply because he was a "fully-patched" Hell's Angel.



Rivalry between the gangs originated in the late 1960s when a series of brutal murders took place in north America.



Simon Turner, 41, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was given a minimum term of 30 years for murder and two firearms offences.



Coventry man Dane Garside, 42, received a minimum 27 years for the same charges.



Sean Creighton, 44, from Coventry, will spend a minimum of 28 years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to murder and two firearms charges.



Malcolm Bull, 53, from Milton Keynes, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison for murder and possessing a shotgun.



Dean Taylor, 47, from Coventry, will spend at least 30 years in prison for the same charges.



Karl Garside, 45, from Coventry, was given at least 26 years and Ian Cameron, 46, also from Coventry, received at least 25 years for murder.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Treacy told the defendants: "This was an appalling murder. A totally innocent man was executed with a firearm in broad daylight on a busy motorway for no reason other than that he belonged to a different motorcycle club than yours.

"Gerry Tobin was a person with his own work life, his own social life, his own private life, none of these lives, which he enjoyed, was entitled to continue to enjoy, in any way impinged upon your lives.



"Gerry Tobin was a decent man of good character.



"He was a total stranger to you.



"The utter pointlessness of what you did makes his murder more shocking."

Mr Justice Treacy described how the life of Mr Tobin's fiancee, 26-year-old Rebecca Smith, had been "utterly changed" by their actions.

He said: "She had hoped to marry him, have a family life with him, to have children with him."



He added that Mr Tobin's parents had found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that their only son had been "cold-bloodedly executed".



The judge added: "None of you has showed the remotest feeling, consideration or remorse for what you did.



"This dreadful crime, in my judgment, falls into a particularly high category of seriousness because it involved the use of a firearm and because of its cold-blooded and ruthless nature."



He said the "scouting" carried out by the defendants was done with "murder in your hearts".



About 100 members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang waited outside while the sentencing hearing took place.



Dozens of armed police officers patrolled the court precinct.

During the trial against six of the defendants, the jury was told that Creighton and Turner, the gang's president and sergeant-at-arms, were in a Rover car when they pulled up alongside Mr Tobin's Harley-Davidson and opened fire.

The court heard that the fatal shot was fired as both Mr Tobin and the two gunmen sped along the M40 at about 90mph.



The shooting followed three days of "scouting" by all seven men.



Dane Garside, a lorry driver and father of seven, was at the wheel of the Rover and manoeuvred the vehicle so that the fatal shot could be fired.



Three other defendants - Karl Garside, Taylor and Cameron - acted as "back-up" on the day of the murder, patrolling the M40 in a white Range Rover.



Bull, driving a Renault Laguna, was also in the area when Mr Tobin fell victim to the "military-style" operation.



Mobile telephone evidence proved that the occupants of the Rover contacted the "units" in the Range Rover and the Renault and ordered them to stand down moments after the murder.



All seven men returned to the Coventry area and the Rover was set alight in a country lane north of the city.

At the beginning of the hearing, the court was told that police received intelligence of a possible attack on Malcolm Bull while he was inside the dock.

The judge ruled that all seven defendants must be handcuffed as he passed sentence.



Opening the case against Creighton, who pleaded guilty on the first day of the nine-week trial, Timothy Raggatt QC told the court his plea had been had been a "tactical" one.



He said Creighton, accepted by the court as the gunman who fired the fatal shot, had been disguising his appearance in the days leading up to the killing.



When police arrested him in Coventry on August 22 last year, a dummy was recovered - believed to have been used for target practice, the court heard.



Mr Raggatt said: "It may not be that it was a matter of chance that the shot that killed Mr Tobin, if it was fired by Creighton, was not just a lucky shot - it may have been a shot he had been practising for some time."



He added that Creighton, thought to be the president of the South Warwickshire chapter of the Outlaws, was "a central figure and a leading light", both in the motorbike gang and the murder plot.



"This was a meticulously planned operation and central to this planning was Mr Creighton," he said.



Mr Raggatt said Mr Tobin, from Mottingham, south London, was "beyond question an innocent victim", adding: "Mr Tobin has been described in some quarters recently as Gentleman Gerry. That is a fair description.



"Mr Tobin was a man of good character in a positive sense and all of those who gave statements who knew him attested to that fact.



"He was not only an obvious target but an easy target in the sense that he was not surrounded, as some might have been, by his colleagues.



"He was in that sense not only a prime target but also a soft target."