Hells An­gel ex­torted, kid­napped ex-part­ner

Pot grower wanted to end busi­ness ties

The Province - - NEWS - KIM BOLAN kbolan@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/kbolan

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.

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