Months before the slaughter that left eight outlaw bikers dead in an Elgin County farmer's field three years ago, tension and anger were simmering within the organization, the first-degree-murder trial of six Bandido members and associates has heard.
The testimony goes to the heart of the prosecution's case in one of the worst gangland massacres in Canadian history, and came from its star witness, a former Bandido who has turned informant.
Five months after jury selection began, the onetime Winnipeg resident and father of three now known simply as M.H. finally testified, sounding confident as he delivered his damning, meticulously prepared evidence.
Shrouded by the witness protection program, his name and address carefully concealed, M.H. is expected over the next few days to give the jury a first-hand account of the events culminating in the mass killing in April, 2006, of eight members and associates of the Bandido motorcycle gang.
In large part, the internal divisions he alluded to reflected a geographical split.
The Bandidos had just two chapters in Canada at the time of the killings - the mother chapter in Toronto and the subsidiary Winnipeg group, which had only probationary status because the Toronto Bandidos had repeatedly balked at granting them their own charter.
"Every time we approached them about getting our charter there was a problem," M.H. testified.
All eight victims were attached to the Toronto faction, while most of the six accused are from Winnipeg.
The eight were found crammed into four vehicles discovered in a field in the quiet hamlet of Shedden, a half-hour drive west of London.
The broad prosecution thesis is that the eight victims died as a result of a power struggle involving the Bandidos' two Canadian chapters and the U.S. parent organization, which leaned toward the Winnipeg group.
A onetime cocaine dealer in Winnipeg, M.H. identified all the accused and the victims, and described joining the Bandidos in the summer of 2005, together with his former friend, Dwight Mushey, 41, one of the six accused.
Allied to the Winnipeg faction and central to the massacre, the Crown contends, was long-time outlaw biker Wayne Kellestine, 60, at whose farmhouse the eight victims are alleged to have been shot to death before being hauled 14 kilometres up the highway and dumped in Shedden.
Accused along with Mr. Mushey and Mr. Kellestine are Michael Sandham, Frank Mather, 35, Brett Gardiner, 25, and Marcelo Aravena, 32.
All six have pleaded not guilty in the deaths of George Jessome, 52, George Kriarkis, 28, John Muscedere, 48, Luis Raposos, 30, Jamie Flanz, 37, and Michael Trotta, 31.
M.H.'s testimony continues today.