Two senior Hells Angels quietly said “thank you” to a jury after they were acquitted yesterday of hiring a hitman to kill a fellow biker.

Remond (Ray) Akleh, 46, formerly of the Hells Angels’ Ottawa-based Nomads chapter, and Mark Cephes Stephenson, 45, president of the Oshawa chapter, then hugged crying members of their families and each other in a courtroom hallway.

“I just want to see my kids and hold them,” said Akleh, a father of three, as he walked out of the courthouse surrounded by wet-eyed family members.

The jury reached its verdict yesterday morning on the fourth day of deliberations after three months of testimony.

“God bless them (the jury),” said Akleh, who was represented by lawyer Glenn Orr. “They’ve got a hard job to do.”

The jury rejected the testimony of former Oshawa Hells Angel Steven Gault, who was paid more than $1 million by police for his work in an 18-month police operation that ended on Sept. 28, 2006, with the arrests of Akleh and Stephenson.

Gault told court he was recruited to be the hitman in the plot against Frank (Cisco) Lenti of the Bandidos Motorcycle club, which was never carried out.

For Stephenson, it was his first taste of freedom since being arrested at his Durham Region home early in the morning of Sept. 28, 2006. Akleh had been free on bail since February 2007.

Stephenson said he planned to spend the day celebrating with family, and watching the NFL playoffs. He smiled at the prospect of watching football on a 62-inch screen after being confined during the trial in a four-foot by four-foot cell.

Stephenson, who works as a millwright, praised the jury for not assuming they were guilty simply because they are Hells Angels.

“We’re bikers, not criminals,” Stephenson said.

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