As eight Toronto-area bikers rolled down Hwy 401 toward an isolated Southwestern Ontario farmhouse three years ago on what would be the last night of their lives, a small arsenal of firepower was being cleaned, oiled and loaded in readiness, a mass-murder trial heard Wednesday.
The farm, a 40-minute drive west of London, belonged to onetime Bandido and accused killer Wayne Kellestine, 60.
And as the rendezvous with the doomed men neared, Mr. Kellestine warned his visiting friends from Winnipeg - also Bandidos, but from a chapter locked in conflict with the Toronto faction: "Be prepared for the worst."
On the second day of his testimony, a biker-turned-informant who is the star prosecution witness in the trial of Mr. Kellestine and five other outlaw bikers, each charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, outlined a first-hand account of elaborate preparations.
Identified just by the initials M.H., he said he saw at least three shotguns, three rifles and a handgun in Mr. Kellestine's home being assembled, cleaned or handled, not all in working condition.
There was also plenty of ammunition on hand, M.H. said, some of it purchased recently What prompted the preparations, he testified, was a phone call to Mr. Kellestine on Friday, April 7, 2006, from one of the Toronto Bandidos, announcing that they were coming to see him.
The bodies of the eight slain bikers were discovered the next morning in a farmer's field in rural Shedden, 14 kilometres southeast of the Kellestine farm.
The core prosecution thesis is that the bloodletting stemmed from an internecine dispute within the motorcycle gang, pitting members of the probationary Winnipeg chapter, plus Mr. Kellestine, against the dominant Toronto group.
MH described other preparations that evening.
He recounted walking into Mr. Kellestine's junk-cluttered shed, where a large Nazi flag hung, and seeing co-accused Dwight Mushey, 41, sawing off the barrel of a shotgun.
He described co-accused Michael (Taz) Sandham, 39, president of the Winnipeg group, giving a demonstration of a "butt stroke" - using the stock of a rifle to strike a person.
MH donned green latex gloves to give the packed courtroom an illustration of the technique Two of the other accused - Brett Gardiner, 25, and Marcelo Aravena, 33, - spent time cleaning rusty shotgun shells that evening, he said.
Nor was that Friday night the first time the spectre of gun violence had been raised, MH told assistant Crown attorney Tim Zuber.
Earlier in the week, he said, Mr. Sandham had mused about perhaps shooting Toronto Bandido president John Muscedere on the balcony of his Toronto apartment.
Earlier Wednesday, MH told the six-man, six-woman jury that as he and four of the accused made their by car toward the Kellestine farm from Winnipeg, two and a half weeks before the April 8 killings, a hit squad from the rival Toronto faction had travelled the other way, and was in Winnipeg looking for blood.
The Winnipeggers' road trip was in response to instructions from the Bandidos U.S. parent organization in Washington state to "pull the patches," of the Toronto chapter, M.H. testified.
The orders, and the alleged twin missions, followed months of tension between the two Canadian Bandido groups.
The orders from Washington came on March 25 and the quartet left for Ontario the same day, M.H. testified.
But en route to Toronto, Mr. Sandham learned that three strangers had unexpectedly shown up at his in-laws' residence in Winnipeg, where Mr. Sandham had at one time lived.
After arriving at the Kellestine residence, Mr. Sandham told his friends he had discovered that the trio comprised two Toronto Bandidos and a Winnipeg biker, Jamie Corn, and that their mission was to murder him.
"They were there to kill Taz," M.H. testified.
Shortly after their arrival at the Kellestine farmhouse, Mr. Aravena flew in from Winnipeg.
The sixth defendant is Frank Mather, 35, who was living at the famr, which Mr. Kellestine also shared with his spouse, Tina, and their young daughter.
All six have pleaded not guilty to killing Mr. Muscedere, 48, George Jessome, 52, George Kriarkis, Luis Raposo, 41, Jamie Flanz, 37, Frank Salerno, 43, Paul Sinopoli, 30, and Michael Trotta, 31.
Immaculately tailored in a tan suit and speaking in a low, clear voice, MH told the trial that while no one from the U.S. Bandido leadership explicitly ordered the murder of the Toronto group, its displeasure was clear and its impatience building.
Three months earlier, in December 2005, the U.S. Bandidos sent an e-mail to Mr. Sandham advising him that the Toronto group had to be stripped of its biker colours and other paraphenalia, which was to be shipped to an address in Texas, (postal code included).
But the Toronto group remained active, and after a meeting on the west coast between Mr. Kellestine and Mr. Mushey and three top U.S. Bandidos, the order to pull the patches was issued.
Then, the plan was that Mr. Kellestine would launch a new, London-based Bandido chapter, with himself as president, MH testified.
"There would be no more Toronto Bandidos."
As they left Winnipeg for the Kellestine farm house, the four bikers left behind their gang colours lest they be stopped by police.
Nor did they need to bring any guns along, M.H. told the trial.
"If we needed weapons, Wayne would have them."
M.H.'s testimony continues Thursday.