John Dillon Brown was stressed and had a “dark cloud over him” in the hours before he was murdered, a Victoria court heard Thursday.
Richard Ernest Alexander, the 65-year-old former president of the Devils Army motorcycle club in Campbell River, stands accused of shooting the 30-year-old Saanich man to death at the Devils Army clubhouse in Campbell River in 2016.
Brown’s body was found in the trunk of his car near the village of Sayward the following day. Alexander has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge.
Brown’s sister-in-law testified Thursday that she was with him on March 11, 2016, the day he disappeared.
Hailey Lagos told the court Brown had visited her at home and told her he was “getting his money today,” a reference to a cash settlement Brown had arranged after threatening a lawsuit against a Campbell River nightclub where months before he had been beaten up by bikers.
Brown believed staff at the Voodoo Lounge, a club that Devils Army members frequented, were complicit in the November 2015 attack, and he had secured surveillance video from the club that he believed proved his case.
Lagos said the normally upbeat and well-dressed Brown stayed at her home for about 45 minutes, appearing “stressed” and wearing uncharacteristic grey sweatpants and a white T-shirt when he got a text on his phone.
Lagos testified that Brown read the text and again said, “I’m getting my money.”
Lagos did not see the text or know who it came from, she said. Brown left the home immediately, with plans to return later to take his niece swimming. Lagos never saw him again.
She testified that her brother-in-law was known to have a bad temper and was rumoured to have been involved in a 2011 fight at the Voodoo Lounge in which a man died.
One of Brown’s friends, who is also a cousin of Lagos, told the court Thursday that she saw Brown in his car heading in the direction of the Devils Army clubhouse that day.
Jericho Edinger said she was driving to a salon appointment in the afternoon when she passed her cousin’s home and saw Brown’s grey Honda Accord in the driveway.
When she returned home from the appointment, she saw Brown in his car at a nearby intersection. Later that evening, Edinger discovered Brown was missing. The next day, she heard he was dead.
A former Devils Army member testified Thursday about his own rise through the club’s ranks before leaving the group in 2019.
Michael Hargreaves began hanging around the clubhouse in 2015, later becoming an official “hang around,” or “prospect,” and then a “striker” in 2017, before he was made a full-patch member.
Hargreaves told the court he paid club dues of $200 per month as a full-patch member, attending motorcycle rides and events hosted by other clubs around the province, including the Shadow Club and the Hells Angels.
Hargreaves described Devils Army meetings, called “church,” in which club business was attended to and matters were voted on, with the club president having the final say.
Hargreaves testified that Alexander was president of the Devils Army while he was a member.
The trial is scheduled to last another three weeks in Victoria.