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Serge "The Killer" Gauthier, a Hells Angels hit man accused of 22 murders, is in a "state of poverty" and deserves to have his legal bills covered by taxpayers

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Serge "The Killer" Gauthier, a Hells Angels hit man accused of 22 murders, is in a "state of poverty" and deserves to have his legal bills covered by taxpayers, a judge has ruled.

Superior Court Justice James Brunton says Gauthier, 57, is too poor to mount a proper defence in a mega-trial scheduled to begin next year.

Gauthier, of Trois-Rivieres, Que., is among 124 bikers who face trial for the deaths of rivals during a bloody war with the Rock Machine gang in the 1990s and early 2000s. The two gangs battled for control of Quebec's lucrative drug market before police crippled both in a series of raids. About 30 of the defendants are also eligible for legal aid.

The court found that Gauthier's sole source of income is a $19,130 annual worker's compensation subsidy and a $5,000 profit from the sale of hand-crafted items.

"It is clear that the applicant's low income does not allow him to finance his ... defence in a case of this magnitude and complexity," Justice Brunton noted in a May 31 ruling.

The Superior Court has already ruled that each biker's legal bill could hit $240,000 for a trial that could last up to 15 months.

Gauthier was once the head of a lucrative drug trafficking network whose revenues had reached $1.5 million by 2002. Police say he supplemented his income by working as a pimp.

Gauthier tried and failed to have the charges against him dropped on the grounds that he has spent an unreasonable amount of time in jail awaiting trial.

Justice Brunton stayed charges against 31 other bikers on the same grounds last month.

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A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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