Hells Angel extorted, kidnapped ex-partner
Pot grower wanted to end business ties
For more than a dozen years, Hope resident Richard Houle grew cannabis illegally for an Edmonton Hells Angel, Neil Cantrill.
When Houle told Cantrill at a meeting in December 2014 that he wanted to get out of the business, he didn’t think there would be any problem.
But a year-and-a-half later, on Aug. 1, 2016, Houle was grabbed by Cantrill, Cantrill’s son Stephan and Cantrill’s associate Robert Lowry.
Houle was brutally beaten and told he would have to sign his house over to his former business partner.
All three men were convicted last month in B.C. Supreme Court of aggravated assault, kidnapping, extortion, forcible confinement and overcoming resistance.
Their sentencing is scheduled for December.
Justice Ward Branch said Houle — despite his admitted involvement in the drug trade — was a credible witness at the trial.
And the judge noted that much of what Houle said was bolstered by other evidence
— his blood was found on Lowry’s jeans and inside an SUV where he said the attack took place. And police testified about finding more blood on a roadside stump near where Houle agreed to meet Neil Cantrill that day.
Cantrill has a lengthy association with the Hells Angels. He was once a member of the Alberta Nomads chapter but more recently has joined the Edmonton-based Westridge chapter of the Hells Angels.
The link to the notorious biker gang is not mentioned in Branch’s 34-page written judgment released on July 31.
Houle testified that he first agreed to run grow operations for Neil Cantrill in 2001 or 2002.
Houle said he made between $60,000 and $100,000 annually, but didn’t file tax returns. And he said he owned one of his grow properties on Johnson Road in Hope through a nominee.
Over the years, “there were no major difficulties in his business relationship” with Cantrill he said, though Houle suffered “certain police seizures or third-party thefts at his properties.”
He travelled to Edmonton to meet Cantrill on Dec. 28, 2014 to tell him “their business relationship would be coming to an end.”
He also told Cantrill he could have the growing equipment if he wanted it.
Nineteen months later, Houle found a note on his Johnson Road fence on July 31, 2016.
Houle thought Cantrill wanted the growing equipment. He made the call and they agreed to meet the following day at a roadside pull out near Hope.
There Neil Cantrill grabbed Houle by the throat and said ‘So you think you can rip me off!’
Houle was put in the back of the SUV where he was struck repeatedly, bleeding profusely.
They all headed to his property. Police later showed up, arresting the Alberta trio and taking Houle to the hospital.
He was interviewed by police the following day and asked to be placed in the Witness Protection Program.