Bandidos trial sees gruesome photos of dead men

Bandidos trial sees gruesome photos of dead men

LONDON, Ont. – Stomach-churning images of bloodied faces pocked with gushing bullet holes were displayed in a London, Ont,. court Wednesday as a forensic investigator detailed the grisly April 2006 discovery of eight murdered men who were connected to the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle club.

The gasps and sobs of family members nearly drowned out testimony as gruesome crime-scene photos were flashed on the dozens of screens in the high-tech courtroom, where six men are standing trial on charges of first-degree murder in Ontario’s largest mass slaying.

The victims were found stuffed into four abandoned vehicles near the side of a road in southwestern Ontario farm country on the morning of April 8, 2006.

On Tuesday, the first day of trial, the jury was shown pictures of the eight victims — who were known by nicknames like Bam Bam, Chopper, Pony and Big Paul — and the Crown said in its opening statement that the men were brutally killed one by one.

On Wednesday, ghastly closeup images of the murdered men were entered into evidence.

“Some of them will be of a gruesome nature — steel yourself for this,” Justice Thomas Heeney warned jurors before provincial police Const. Ross Stuart, the lead forensic investigator, ran court through an unflinching stream of bloody photos.

Police were first called after an area resident noticed several vehicles parked just off the road, which was seen as odd for the rural area of mostly farmland and forest.

When police approached the first of the four vehicles it soon became obvious what was inside, Stuart told court.

A Pontiac Grand Prix, which had been rented by the common-law wife of one of the victims, Michael Trotta, was backed into a small grassy area surrounded by trees, about 10 metres off the road.

In the back seat, Jamie Flanz was slumped on his right side, with a jacket partially obscuring his body from view. Among the items found in the car were envelopes addressed to Trotta from the Halton Catholic District School Board and a veterinarian’s clinic.

Stuart said Flanz’s body was found leaning against a child’s car seat and a pile of toys and clothes, which prompted family members to sarcastically comment, “a bunch of bad guys.”

They broke into tears at the sight of the next photo: a close-up of Flanz’s face revealing a bullet hole in his forehead and another in his left cheek, with blood dripping from both wounds.

Parked about a metre off the road were a silver Chevrolet pickup truck and a Volkswagen Golf hitched behind it.

Stuart said the truck’s foot plate and interior were covered with bloodstains, and George Jessome was slumped onto the steering wheel. Another angle showed blood had been seeping from his nose and his face was smeared in red. The keys to the truck were left in the ignition.

The keys to the Golf were found on the hood, and the back of the vehicle was streaked with blood. Inside the trunk was the vehicle’s owner, Luis Raposo, his body wrapped in an area rug. The bloodied bodies of George Kriarakis and John Muscedere were found in the car’s interior.

Police retrieved a leather Bandidos vest and a silver ring from the vehicle, and found spent ammunition near Raposo’s body.

The final vehicle, an Infiniti, had been parked within an opening of trees that led to a field and had its trunk open, plainly revealing the heavy-set body of Paul Sinopoli, blood trailing down his face from a wound to his left temple.

In the back seat, police found the bodies of Trotta and Frank Salerno, both slumped to their left sides.

The Crown alleges the murdered men were shot one by one as the result of a feud between two chapters of the Bandidos.

The victims were all either members or associates of the Toronto chapter of the Bandidos.

Court also heard from witnesses who had driven past the crime scene early the morning the bodies were found.

Mary Aartsen, who works at a nearby diner, said she drove through the area at about 4:45 a.m. and went slowly and carefully to avoid hitting any animals.

“There was nothing there except for two raccoons,” she testified.

Janet Shelley, who delivers newspapers in the area, said she saw one vehicle, the pickup truck, while passing by at 6:50 a.m.

And Alison Debunk said she saw three of the four vehicles — but not the Infiniti — when she passed the area at 7:20 a.m.

The trial is expected to last as long as six months.

Charged in the deaths are Wayne Kellestine, 59, and Frank Mather, 35, of Dutton-Dunwich, Ont.; Brett Gardiner, 24, of no fixed address; and Michael Sandham, 39, Marcelo Aravena, 32, and Dwight Mushey, 41, all of Winnipeg.