LONDON, Ont. - Six alleged Bandido members and associates were "prepared for the worst" as they spent hours cleaning and loading a stockpile of weapons after arranging a meeting with their rivals - men who would all be dead hours later, court heard Wednesday.
The bodies of eight men attached to the Toronto chapter of the Bandidos were found shot to death and stuffed into four vehicles abandoned in a farmer's field in Shedden, in southwestern Ontario.
A former Bandido turned informant, who can only be identified as M.H., testified Wednesday to the events he says led up to Ontario's largest ever mass slaying, and the tensions that plagued the Toronto chapter and the Winnipeg faction of the Bandidos.
Weeks before the bodies were found on April 8, 2006, an order came from U.S. club officials that the Toronto group was to be stripped of their association with the biker gang, M.H. said.
Five men who the Crown alleges were associated with the Bandidos in Winnipeg and one who it alleges was a member of the Toronto chapter - Wayne Kellestine - have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
M.H. said in early 2006 one of the accused, Michael Sandham, met with gang officials from the United States. He said it was decided that Toronto would lose its status and Winnipeg, up until then just a probationary chapter, would gain full status.
Kellestine would become national president, Sandham would become secretary treasurer and Kellestine would also set up a chapter in London, Ont., M.H. testified.
Kellestine had a farmhouse in rural southwestern Ontario, which is where the eight victims are alleged to have been shot to death before being taken down the road and dumped just outside Shedden.
It was to be Kellestine's responsibility to strip the Toronto members of their club patches, M.H. testified.
He told court that although Kellestine was a member of the Toronto chapter, there were tensions there, too. M.H. said Kellestine complained that those in Toronto would call him at 5 p.m. to tell him about a "church" - what they called club meetings - at 6 p.m., despite Toronto being more than two hours away from Kellestine's farmhouse.
"It was almost like they didn't want him to attend churches," M.H. said.
M.H. also testified that members or associates of the Toronto chapter went to Winnipeg to kill Sandham, in the hopes of taking over the Manitoba chapter.
On March 25, Sandham had a conversation with one of the U.S. gang officials he had met with previously, M.H. testified. The man was phoning to find out what was happening with revoking Toronto's status.
M.H. said he, Sandham, Dwight Mushey, Marcelo Aravena and Brett Gardiner were told to go to Kellestine's Ontario farmhouse without telling Kellestine they were coming.
"Go see what's going on with him pulling the patches," M.H. said they were told.
"The States wanted to know what was taking so long."
Soon after four of them set out driving from Winnipeg - Aravena was to come later by plane - Sandham received a call from his wife that three men had shown up at his in-law's house, M.H. said. From the descriptions of the men they suspected they were associated with the Toronto chapter.
After arriving at Kellestine's farmhouse, Sandham talked with him in private, after which time Sandham told M.H. that those men had been sent by the Toronto chapter to kill Sandham, M.H. said.
On April 6 and 7, the men at Kellestine's house discussed what to do about the Toronto chapter and it was decided that Kellestine would tell his fellow Toronto members he was holding a "church" at his place, M.H. said.
Kellestine had mentioned he had a cache of weapons hidden under the shingles of his porch roof and when he spoke of the need to replace the shingles after they were ripped up to get at the weapons, M.H. said Kellestine was asked why.
"He said, 'just in case. Be prepared for the worst,"' M.H. testified.
Hours before the men were to arrive for the "church" Kellestine began rounding up weapons - such as shotguns and rifles - that he had stored all over his house, M.H. said, and then the men went about putting them together, cleaning them and loading them.
Mushey, Kellestine, Sandham, Gardiner, Aravena and Frank Mather each face eight counts of first-degree murder and have pleaded not guilty.
The shooting victims were George Jessome, 52, George Kriarakis, 28, John Muscedere, 48, Luis Raposo, 41, Frank Salerno, 43, Paul Sinopoli, 30, Jamie Flanz, 37, and Michael Trotta, 31.
M.H.'s testimony continues Thursday.