The Crown withdrew the charge against Ryan Daigneault, 42, Thursday, one week before he was supposed to go to trial for counselling to commit murder.
Related firearm charges against co-accused Daniel Tranquair, 31, also were withdrawn.
The sudden release of Daigneault could change the already shifting biker landscape in Southwestern Ontario, with police warning recently of increased tensions between the two clubs.
The Hells Angels will not be pleased Daigneault was freed and will push for retribution, they say.
“The Hells Angels will lose credibility if nothing happens,” one longtime Outlaw biker said.
“This is a serious matter. There have been threats on both sides. This could be dangerous for the public, if it gets out of hand.”
Another insider said retribution was likely, but a full-out war could be avoided.
The two clubs might be more interested in making money off the lucrative drug trade than starting large-scale trouble, he said. Peace might also come if the Hells Angels believe police charged an innocent man, a third biker source suggested.
But the Hells Angels already arranged an assault on Daigneault while he was in custody at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on the charge, several independent sources from inside and outside the jail, said.
London police confirmed at the time there was an incident, but said they received no request or complaint that would prompt an investigation. Daigneault and Tranquair were charged in October. Tranquair was charged with possessing a restricted firearm and transferring a firearm.
Police did not say who the intended target or targets were. But sources and court documents indicated two local Hells Angels were potential targets. According to court documents, Tranquair was released soon after the charges were laid.
But Daigneault, identified by sources as the president of the London Outlaws, remained in custody for several months, getting bail only recently. Daigneault and Tranquair were scheduled for a two-day trial starting Aug 2.
Daigneault could not be reached for comment. But his partner, Stacey Scaman, provided a comment via Facebook messaging.
“Just happy that his whole ordeal is over and we can move on,” she said.
It was not immediately clear why the charges were withdrawn. A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General said he could not provide comment at this point.
The Outlaws have deep roots in London. But they struggled to keep membership up after the sweep of Hells Angels through Ontario in the early 2000s and the large police operation, called Project Retire, that put many Outlaws members behind bars in 2002.
Many biker experts had them gone for good from London.
But local Outlaws opened a new clubhouse and started a puppet club called the Filthy 15 last year. Just two weeks ago, Outlaws turned up at the Friday the 13th ride in Port Dover for the first time in years, police said.
A few days before the event, OPP warned spectators that tensions between the two clubs were increasing. Soon after, the OPP’s biker enforcement unit announced it was investigating two incidents involving threats and intimidation between Hells Angels and Outlaws members.
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