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London police have arrested one of the city’s most wanted criminals, and a longtime outlaw biker

Saturday, 4 February 2012

.London police have arrested one of the city’s most wanted criminals, and a longtime outlaw biker, in an atmosphere of heightened secrecy that seems to be shadowing the department’s investigations into a brewing gang war over drug trafficking.

Thomas Harmsworth, 54, was arrested Jan. 27 without incident following a one-hour standoff that forced a west-end elementary school into a partial lockdown.
Although Harmsworth has a record of violence dating back to 1977, has connections to a biker gang that may be involved in the current drug war and was on the most wanted list, police did not reveal to the media or public that he was arrested.
But police said they were not being secretive in either the Harmsworth arrest or half a dozen other incidents that may be related to the gang war.
“There is no secrecy,” Det. Insp. Kevin Heslop of the criminal investigations branch said in a e-mail Thursday to The Free Press.
“We are diligently investigating each of the occurrences. There are many competing issues relative to the release of information, including the safety of victims, witnesses and the public. The public has a need and right to know certain information . . . There is also a need to maintain the integrity of ongoing investigations so as to not compromise the outcome or jeopardize an accused person’s right to a fair trial.”
Heslop also said, “We routinely make media releases about incidents as they unfold.”
But that doesn’t appear to be the case during a simmering war between bikers and what police are calling a street gang in London.
Here are some examples, and some of Heslop’s responses to Free Press questions about the incidents:
  • Police did not immediately release the address or name of a tattoo parlour, owned by a member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, targeted by arson Jan. 7. Nor did police immediately release the addresses or names of three businesses, a strip club connected to the Hells Angels and two massage parlours, targeted by arson Jan. 8.
  • Although it was apparent after the fires that someone was targeting biker-related businesses, police would not comment on the possibility of a biker connection for two days.
About this, Heslop said: “ . . . there was much speculation by the media about a brewing biker war and that speculation included a belief that the rivalry was between the Outlaws and Hells Angels. We were very cautious about those speculations and did not publicly comment until we had evidence to support our claims.”
Heslop pointed out police held a news conference to state the battle was between the Hells Angels and street gangs, not the Outlaws.
However, police could not answer questions at that time about the connection of at least one gang and the Outlaws.Free Press sources say the main street gang involved, the FU Crew, has direct ties to the Outlaws.
  • Police did not immediately release the name of three men arrested for the shooting of a Hells Angel member and a woman on Jan. 11 outside a suspected clubhouse, although their names were released in court the day of the shooting. Police put out a warrant for the arrest of a fourth suspect in the shooting, but refused to name the suspect for several days.
About these matters, Heslop said: “The names of the persons charged in the biker-related shooting were not initially released by the police over concerns for their safety.” Police did not know if the Hells Angels knew the names of those charged and did not want to help the bikers locate the suspects and retaliate, Heslop added.
  • Police did not mention a second shooting that took place the morning of Jan. 11, this time at the house of a man that some suspect has possible connections to the Outlaws motorcycle club and to the FU crew. Only when questioned by The Free Press did police confirm they were investigating the second shooting.
“That was an oversight on our part,” Heslop said. “Once we realized that we had not made a media release, we immediately sent one out.”
The arrest of Harmsworth Jan. 27 resulted in a letter being sent home to parents of children at Kensal Park elementary school.
The letter did not mention Harmsworth’s name or a past that includes a run-in with the notorious Wayne Kellestine in 1999 — that left Harmsworth with five bullets in his stomach — or a 2002 sentence for 10 gun-related charges.
Harmsworth appeared in court Monday on a charge dating from 2011 of aggravated assault. There were no new charges, Const. Dennis Rivest said Thursday.DISCLAIMER:Text may be subject to copyright.This blog does not claim copyright to any such text. Copyright remains with the original copyright holder

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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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