- 2015 Federal Election
Update: Gangsters sentenced for their role in Kelowna man's killing
Two full-patch members of the Hells Angels who levied a deadly attack on Kelowna man Dain Phillips were sentenced Wednesday morning for manslaughter.
Const. Kris Clark confirmed this morning that Norman Cocks and Robert Thomas, two of the group local media once dubbed the Rutland 7, were sentenced to 15 years, less time served.
They've been in custody since mid-2011, so the total time they face will be just over twelve years.
More on this to come.
Two full-patch members of the Hells Angels admitted to their role in the deadly 2011 attack of Kelowna man Dain Phillips.
Norman Cocks and Robert Thomas, two of the ringleaders of what local media dubbed the Rutland 7, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday, according to the court registry.
The two had originally been charged with second-degree murder, but agreed to a plea on the lesser charge, the Vancouver Sun reported.
At the time of their arrest, Cocks and Thomas were the first full patch-wearing Hells Angels charged with murder in the club’s 28-year history in B.C. Even with a guilty plea to a lesser charge, they're still forging dubious new ground for the biker gang.
Phillips's family was reportedly not in attendance when the guilty pleas were entered at a Vancouver courtroom, which is a continuation of the silence they've held since June 2011, when Phillips fell victim to a fatal beating.
Their only words were found in an online obituary, which read: “Dad could be best characterized as a hard working man with a lust for life, and he was a family man in every sense of the term. Dad served his family with all of his huge heart up until the minute he died.”
Others remembered him on an online memorial as a “gentle giant who never had a bad word to say about anyone.”
Police, who put significant efforts into the case, even said they were confounded by the violence of the case.
“This is a senseless murder over a dispute for what?” said Supt. Pat Fogarty at a 2011 press conference where he announced charges against Cocks and Thomas.
Fogarty insisted that the father of three wasn’t embroiled in any gang or criminal activity June 12, 2011 when he was beaten to death at the intersection of McCurdy and Gibson roads.
In fact, the fatal series of events that initially appeared to be part of little more than an outdoor brawl, shaped into a story about a father attempting to “do the right thing” for his family.
“This is a sad and tragic event involving a father simply trying to protect his kids,” said Fogarty.
“Dain Phillips’ sons were in a dispute with the McCrae brothers who were associated with Norm Cocks of the Hells Angels…(they) were ordinary citizens in a dispute with the wrong people.”
While there’s no information on what prompted the dispute, police alleged Phillips set up a meeting so both parties could discuss and work out their differences and put an end to threats that had been escalating in recent weeks.
That plan went off course when, en route to the meeting, Phillips car crossed paths with the other two other vehicles and a decision was made to pull over at the vacant intersection..
The six-foot-three man then allegedly exited his car and faced a torrent of blows from bats, hammers and other weapons that police have chosen not to disclose.
With the 51-year-old on the ground, suffering from his injuries, his alleged assailants then piled back into the two cars they arrived in.
Phillips was transported to Kelowna General Hospital and died the next day as a result of his injuries, with his wife and family at his side.
With the guilty pleas squared away, sentencing awaits the two gangsters.
The rest of the so-called Rutland 7 — Cocks’s father Robert, Daniel and Matt McRae and Anson Schell – are scheduled for their trials next week. Charges against Thomas Vaughan, were later stayed.
Both Cocks and Thomas have been in custody since their arrest in July 2011.