An admitted senior member of the Nanaimo Hells Angels was given a five-year prison sentence by a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday.
Judge Robin Baird ruled that Robert Frederick Widdifield was part of, although not personally involved in, an October 2010 extortion plot with an alleged member of the Hells Angels and a pair of associates. A man was forced to pay $160,000 and had a yacht taken as a result.
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As part of his sentence, Widdifield was ordered to pay $120,000 restitution for the boat and also had a lifetime weapons ban imposed.
John Green, Widdifield’s legal counsel, argued against restitution. Baird said the accused had “substantial capacity” to provide compensation. He was reasonably confident the purpose of restitution in sentencing would be properly served, with the prevention of profiting from crime amongst the reasons.
Crown counsel had sought six to eight years in prison and Green 2.5 to three years, but Baird said five to six was appropriate taking into account Widdifield is 63-years-old, his modest criminal record, good behaviour on bail during the nearly five years it took for the matter to come to trial, as well as the substantial restitution payment.
Despite a long-standing association with biker gangs, Baird said Widdifield had a “fairly minor and dated” criminal record, including charges of assault from the 1970s and ’90s.
Baird also took into consideration that Widdifield is in a long-term marriage and raised three daughters, whom Baird said, “seemed to be successfully launched in reputable, law-abiding directions,” and was said to be the centre of his family’s life.
Charges against Widdifield were stayed in June 2013, citing court delays, but Crown successfully appealed to the B.C. Supreme Court and the trial took place last fall.
Tuesday’s sentencing hearing was adjourned from March.