In England seven members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club have been convicted for last August's murder of Gerry Tobin, a fully-patched member of Hells Angels, who was visiting from Canada to attend the annual Bulldog Bash:
The Angels had attended the Bulldog Bash for 20 years. In the territorial world of motorcycle clubs, one club entering another's area can be a source of conflict but, according to other bikers, the Angels had long had tacit permission to attend the Bash and would not have had any notion of what awaited one of their members that day. * * * It is estimated that there are 250 Hells Angels in the UK and slightly fewer Outlaws.
The rivalry between the American-based gangs began in 1969 when a member of the Outlaws raped the wife of a Hells Angel. The woman's husband and other Hells Angels later beat the rapist almost to death in New York, which in turn was avenged when three Hells Angels were kidnapped by the Outlaws and executed at point blank range, before their bodies were weighted down with rocks and thrown in a Florida quarry. Since then there have been tit-for-tat incidences all over the world, with increasing activity in Britain. In 1998, the Outlaws made a specific bomb threat to the Bulldog Bash. In 2001, a Canadian man survived despite being shot three times as he left the festival. Earlier this year, the machete-wielding gangs clashed violently and openly at Birmingham airport. And earlier this month David Melles, 52, an Outlaw from Selsey, Gloucestershire, was jailed for 12 years for amassing an illegal armoury of guns and bullets. Police found them while investigating a proposed showdown between the two gangs in Cinderford, Gloucestershire.
BBC News provides further background on the conflict between the Hells Angels and Outlaws, as well as other biker feuds, and identifes the largest worldwide motorcycle clubs:
- Hells Angels - formed in California in 1948. Now has 235 chapters around the world. Sometimes referred to as the 81 from the letters of the alphabet (HA = 81).
- Outlaws - formed in Illinois in 1960s. Have spread to Europe and are bitter enemies of Hells Angels.
- Bandidos - formed in the US but are now very strong in Scandinavia, where they clashed with the Hells Angels.
- Mongols - founded in California in the 1970s by Hispanic bikers refused entry to the Hells Angels. They have spread worldwide.
- Pagans - formed in 1959 in Maryland but have spread throughout US and abroad. Allied to the Outlaws.
- Rock Machine - French Canadian gang who were involved in a bitter war with Hells Angels in Quebec in 1990s. Allied to Bandidos.