Trial is latest to highlight global antipathy between world’s two biggest biker gangs
hree men from the Bandidos biker gang have been convicted of the manslaughter of a motorcyclist from a club that was affiliated with the rival Hells Angels after he strayed into what they considered to be their territory.
The death of David Crawford, 59, on May 12, 2022 is the latest in a string of violent incidents between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, which are part of a global feud dating back decades.
Crawford was one of seven members of the Red Chiefs biker club, based in Cornwall, which crossed the Tamar Bridge into Devon and stopped at a Costa Coffee shop on the outskirts of Plymouth.
Prosecutor Paul Cavin told a jury at Plymouth Crown Court the incursion triggered a reaction by Bandidos gang members Ben Parry, 42, Thomas Pawley, 32, and Chad Brading, 36, who were “intent on violent conflict.”
Parry in a van, and the other two in a Mercedes, followed Crawford’s Kawasaki motorbike on a slip road of the A38 dual carriageway at St. Budeaux, near Plymouth.
The van struck Crawford’s bike and dragged his body some distance along the road.
Parry, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter but was acquitted of murder, claimed he “only intended to bump the back of his bike.”
Pawley and Brading were convicted of manslaughter on Tuesday. All three will be sentenced by Mr. Justice Neil Garnham in January.
Crawford was a member of the Red Chiefs Motorcycle Club’s Cornwall chapter, while the defendants were from the Plymouth chapter of the Bandidos.
Bandidos Considered Red Chiefs to Have Been ‘Disrespectful’
The defendants claimed it was “disrespectful” of the Red Chiefs to cross the Tamar Bridge wearing their red-and-black patches on the back of their leather jackets, but insisted they only wanted to warn Crawford.
CCTV footage shown to the jury caught the defendants watching the Red Chiefs, from a distance, outside a coffee shop in Plymouth’s Gateway Retail Park.
Pawley and Brading are also shown to have followed another lone biker who they lost before tracking the rest of the Red Chiefs group across the Cornwall border.
Jurors were shown “brutal” video footage of the incident, taken by Parry’s own dashboard camera.
A lip-reading expert told the trial Parry, who was in communication with his friends and fellow Bandidos on wireless headphones, said “oh man” when he spotted Crawford’s motorbike and then “watch this” moments before the collision.
When he was interviewed by police Pawley admitted they were Bandidos and said their chapter had been in existence for only 18 months.
He admitted they were a part of the Bandidos gang, which he said was an international group second in popularity only to the Hell’s Angels, and that their chapter had only been going for around 18 months and had nine members.
Pawley denied they considered the Red Chiefs to be enemies but said it was considered disrespectful among bikers to wear your “colours” on someone else’s patch.
But Cavin said: “What it reveals is that the presence of the Red Chiefs in Devon was considered to be provocative by them. It is clear that they were intent on having a confrontation from the outset.”
Brading told police it had been a “massive miscalculation by Parry.”
On the Red Chiefs’ Facebook page they describe Crawford, who was known within the club by the nickname Dog, as having been “taken from us way before his time.”
Although the Red Chiefs have their own distinct brand it is clear from their Facebook page that they are allied with the world’s biggest biker gang, and a group of them attended the funeral of a prominent Hells Angels member in Bristol in October.
History of Violence Between Hells Angels and Other Biker Gangs
The Hells Angels were formed in Oakland, California in the 1940s—the name derives from a U.S. Air Force bomber squadron—by Sonny Barger, who died in June this year aged 83.
They have more than 3,000 members worldwide—mainly in North America, Europe, and Australia—but have often been in conflict with other biker gangs, who resent their dominance.
In the 1960s and 1970s other biker gangs, like the Mongols and the Pagans, sprung up across the United States and further afield.
Canada’s Quebec province saw a bloody conflict between 1994 and 2002 between the Hells Angels and a powerful local gang called the Rock Machine.
More than 160 deaths have been attributed to the Quebec biker war, which ended after the leader of the Hells Angels Montreal chapter, Maurice “Mom” Boucher, was jailed for life in 2002 for a series of murders. Boucher died in prison in July this year.