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Potter handed life sentence with no parole for 25 years

Allan Potter speaks to his defence lawyers, Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan, before escorting him to the lockup Friday morning. A jury found Potter guilty of the first-degree murder of Dale Porter, 39, in North River, Conception Bay North in 2014.
Allan Potter speaks to his defence lawyers, Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan, before escorting him to the lockup Friday morning. A jury found Potter guilty of the first-degree murder of Dale Porter, 39, in North River, Conception Bay North in 2014. - Tara Bradbury

'We hope this conviction sends a clear message,' RCMP says

As the jurors filed past the prisoner dock in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Friday morning, Allan Potter quietly thanked them.

Minutes earlier, the panel of 12 had declared Potter guilty on a charge of first-degree murder for the death of Dale Porter in North River in 2014.

Potter stood and faced the jury and slightly smiled as they prepared to present their verdict to the court. He showed no immediate reaction as the forewoman announced he was guilty.

In the gallery behind Potter, members of Porter's family gasped, then burst into sobs, hugging each other.

They indicated to prosecutors Sheldon Steeves and Erin Matthews they would not be submitting victim impact statements, given the penalty for first-degree murder is an automatic sentence.

"Mr. Potter, I sentence you to life imprisonment without chance of parole for 25 years," Justice Garrett Handrigan told Potter, who nodded his understanding.

That means Potter, 55, will be 80 years old by the time he is eligible for release on parole.

As sheriffs handcuffed Potter and escorted him back to the lockup, Potter thanked his lawyers, Randy Piercey and Jon Noonan.

There's no word on whether Piercey and Noonan plan to appeal the verdict.

Porter, 39, was a fisherman, a trucker and a father of two who was found stabbed almost 20 times in his North River, Conception Bay North, driveway in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014. He later succumbed to his injuries, which included a severed jugular vein, in Carbonear hospital.

Potter and another man - who cannot be named at this point because he is also charged with Porter's murder and will go to trial at a later date - were socializing with a woman and Porter in a Bay Roberts bar the night of June 28. According to the prosecutors, Porter had been disrespectful to the Vikings Motorcycle Club — of which Potter is a member — and had made an "indecent proposal" to the woman, who was the unidentified man's girlfriend at the time.

The court heard Potter and his co-accused had decided something needed to be done about Porter's disrespect, and buddied up to him, getting a cab with him back to his home after the bar closed. That's when Porter was murdered.

Although Potter was questioned by police in the days after the murder, he wasn't arrested until two years later, after an extensive RCMP undercover "Mr. Big" operation in this province and in Ontario.

Potter, who testified at trial, insisted he had stabbed Porter in self-defence when Porter attacked him and the other man with a knife.

Once court was adjourned, Porter's family members hugged each other and police investigators on the case. They told reporters they felt relieved and happy that "the jury got it right," noting the five years since Porter's murder had been long and hard. Porter's son, Tyler - now 19 and resembling his late dad - said he was pleased with the verdict.

The jurors begin their deliberations on a verdict Tuesday afternoon, and spent two days re-listening to the testimony of Potter and the woman who had been with him the night of Porter's murder, as well as conversations recorded by undercover RCMP officers. They also returned briefly Friday morning to ask the judge to clarify the law when it came to "planned” and "deliberate."

"We thought it was very reasonable given the evidence we've held over the past five weeks. We're very happy for the family. It was a long ordeal for them," Steeves said outside the courthouse of his and Matthews’ impressions of the verdict.

Later in the afternoon, the RCMP called a news conference at its headquarters in St. John's, where police said they, too, were pleased with the jury's decision, which was the culmination of a comprehensive and extensive investigation involving more than 500 officers in this province and in Ontario.

"This investigation had two objectives: to solve the murder of Dale Porter and to disrupt the activities of the Vikings Motorcycle Club," said RCMP Superintendent Holly Turton, officer in charge of operational support services."Outlaw motorcycle gangs such as the Vikings Motorcycle Club threaten the safety and the well-being of our communities through their involvement in the illicit drug trade and the violence they use to further their criminal interests.

"This murder was a tragic example of that violence, and was committed to benefit the Vikings Motorcycle Club. We hope this conviction sends a clear message that we will not tolerate those whose intention it is to erode the safety of our communities for their own benefit."

Police declined to give their reaction to the recent drug trafficking acquittal of Shane Leonard, also a Vikings Motorcycle Club member. Leonard had been charged with trafficking oxycodone by selling Percocet pills, but was acquitted after he told the court that he had no idea Percocet contained the opioid drug.

Police also declined to say how much the investigation into Porter's murder had cost.

Potter's case is believed to be the first murder conviction in the province for a member of an outlaw biker club, police said.

Currently in the province there are a number of biker clubs apart from the Vikings, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Conohan. There are chapters of the Outlaws in Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishop’s Falls, and chapters of Bacchus Motorcycle Club in Grand Falls and Conception Bay South.

Turton sent condolences to Porter's family.

"Dale Porter was a contributing member of the community and a father of two children,” she said. "He was not a member of the Vikings, nor was he involved in any criminal activity."

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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Lawyers present closing submissions in Allan Potter’s trial in St. John’s

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