Judge: Hells Angels items to be returned

Dec. 3, 2012 at 7:39 AM

TORONTO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A Toronto judge ruled items with the Hells Angels logo seized from the local chapter of the group must be returned because symbols are not inherently criminal.

Authorities seized the club paraphernalia during raids in 2007, taking a hand-carved grandfather clock, gold rings, belt buckles, vests, club pins and T-shirts, all bearing the biker organization's insignia, a winged skull emblem, the Toronto Star reported Sunday.

Judge Maureen Forestell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled all items must be returned because they were not needed to commit crimes; in fact, club rules banned the wearing of the so-called "death head" emblem when breaking the law.

Craig Bottomley, a lawyer representing the Toronto Hells Angels, said the win was not just for the organization but for property rights in general.

"This was an important win for the club and it serves to reinforce the verdict delivered by the jury, that the Hells Angels are not a criminal organization," Bottomley said.

"The court delivered a message in this case: Emblems and symbols cannot be inherently criminal and the government must tie property directly to specific offenses before it can take that property from citizens."

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