|A police officer collects evidence at Wayne Kellestine's farm where eight Bandidos bikers were killed. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency Files)
LONDON, Ont. - Three years after six men went on trial charged with the biggest mass murder in Ontario history, a new book by a trial observer has hit store shelves.
Bloody Justice by Anita Arvast, a professor of literature and cultural studies at Georgian College in Toronto, argues that some of the men convicted of killing eight Bandidos bikers were wrongly convicted.
Her focus is aimed mostly at Brett Gardiner, the man who had some of the lightest duties in the plot to kill the No Surrender Crew from Toronto.
Arvast was frequently at the trial and keenly interested in the plight of Gardiner, who was convicted of two counts of manslaughter and six of first-degree murder.
At one point during the seven-month trial, Arvast was banned from the courtroom by court security after she passed reading materials to Gardiner.
In the book, she describes Gardiner as “a handsome and good-humoured young man with large gentle brown eyes.”
“One knew from his eyes and his demeanor that he really wasn’t the tough guy he wanted others to think he was,” she wrote.
Even though Gardiner didn’t shoot any of the Toronto Bandidos, a jury agreed with the Crown he was a party to the murders at a farm near Shedden.
Gardiner manned the police scanner at the house. He helped in removing the bodies from the Kellestine farm.
The notorious Wayne Kellestine was convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder.
The killing took place at his farm, and the evidence at trial showed he was one of the operating minds in the plan.
Michael Sandham and Dwight Mushey of Winnipeg were also convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder.
Frank Mather and Marcelo Aravena were convicted of one count of manslaughter and seven counts of first-degree murder.
All six were sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Arvast argues in the book that a man known as M.H., a Winnipeg Bandido-turned-informant who testified at the trial, should have been put on trial and convicted.
She forged a friendship with Gardiner and visited him at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in London during the trial.
A part of the book discusses Gardiner’s childhood and how he ended up at Wayne Kellestine’s farm on April 8, 2006.
But, she writes, Gardiner wouldn’t talk about his biker involvement.
Included in the book is a poem written by Gardiner. The author tells how she brought reading material for him. She said Gardiner took an interest in “poetry, journaling and Medieval runes (ancient letters).”
She argues Gardiner wasn’t a Bandido, but a “wannabe and only did what he was told so not to be another victim in the shootings.”
Arvast was unavailable for an interview, but said in an e-mail she maintains contact with Gardiner through letters and phone calls.
“I’m also in touch with his family and looking forward to actually meeting them in Calgary this summer,” she said.
The book, she said, was released in Canada and the U.S. and will also be released in the United Kingdom and Australia.