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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Police are searching for a fugitive full-patch Hells Angel charged with murder in the beating death of Kelowna dad Dain Phillips.

Investigators spent the weekend trying to locate Robert Leonard Thomas, a 46-year-old member of the Kelowna chapter of the notorious biker gang.

Thomas, full-patch Angel Norm Cocks and five other associates are facing second-degree murder charges in the fatal assault on Phillips on June 12, during which baseball bats and hammers were used.

The other six suspects were picked up Saturday and Sunday, but Thomas remains at large.

He was once associated with the East End chapter of the Hells Angels and was arrested outside the East Georgia clubhouse in July 2005 in an unrelated case.

Sgt. Shinder Kirk, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest has been issued.

"His current whereabouts is unknown," Kirk said Tuesday, urging people to call their local police if they see him.

Thomas is described as heavily tattooed, 5-feet-7-inches and about 221 pounds.

He owns a 2004 Ford F150 truck, according to the personal property registry, and is listed on the truck's record as living in the 900-block of Clement Avenue in Kelowna.

Phillips, who was a married father of three, tried to intervene peacefully in a dispute two of his sons were having with a pair of brothers with whom they had attended Rutland secondary.

But when Phillips drove to a meeting place on McCurdy Road just before 7 p.m. June 12, he was attacked by a group of men who had arrived in two separate vehicles. He died later in hospital.

CSFEU Supt. Pat Fogarty said Phillips was simply trying to do the right thing and resolve the problem when he was savagely attacked.

He said the special enforcement unit worked closely with Kelowna RCMP in the case as it already had an overlapping investigation dubbed E-Pixie involving some of the same suspects.

"At this time, we are unable to go into full details or to name the E-Pixie suspects as that investigation is active and continues to unfold," Fogarty said.

The other investigation stemmed from the attempted murder of a 27-year-old Edmonton resident in Kelowna Sept. 10.

CSFEU head Supt. Doug Kiloh said police and B.C. residents have seen the migration of Metro Vancouver gang violence to the Okanagan and other parts of the province.

The others charged in Phillips's murder - Robert Cocks, the 52-year-old president of the Throttle Lockers puppet club, brothers Daniel McRae, 20, and Matt McRae, 19, Anson Schell, 19 and Thomas Vaughan, 22 - are all described as associates of the Kelowna Hells Angels chapter, which opened in 2007.

"The arrests of these members of the Hells Angels or any other criminal group show that we will aggressively pursue any individuals who use violence or threats to protect or to expand their criminal enterprises anywhere in British Columbia," Fogarty said.

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