LONDON, Ont. - Weeks before the bodies of eight men attached to the Toronto faction of the Bandidos were found in a farmer's field, an order came from club officials in the U.S. that the group was to be stripped of their association with the biker gang, court heard Wednesday.
Six alleged Bandido members and associates are on trial for first-degree murder, and the Crown's star witness - a former Bandido turned informant - testified about tensions between the Toronto chapter and the Winnipeg faction.
The man, who can only be identified as M.H., said in early 2006 one of the accused, Michael Sandham, met with gang officials from the U.S. He said it was decided that Toronto would lose its status and Winnipeg, up until then just a probationary chapter, would gain full status.
Wayne Kellestine, another accused, would become national president, Sandham would become secretary treasurer and Kellestine would also set up a chapter in London, Ont.
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, Ont, where the bodies were found on April 8, 2006.
It was to be Kellestine's responsibility to strip the Toronto members of their club patches, M.H. testified.
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.
Around the time this was discussed those in Winnipeg were under orders not to communicate with members of the Toronto chapter, especially not to tell them what was in the works regarding their status with the Bandidos, M.H. said.
He testified that on March 25 Sandham had a conversation with one of the U.S. gang officials he had met with previously, and that 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.
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.
The trial continues.