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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

London home of the Outlaws biker gang was razed

London home of the Outlaws biker gang was razed yesterday, seven years after it was raided and boarded up in a province-wide sweep by police. Yesterday, as neighbours and police officers looked on, an excavator with a massive claw first knocked down a garage and then the clubhouse that's been a fixture at 420 Egerton St. since the 1980s. "It's become a real eyesore and I'm glad it's being torn down before somebody burns it or gets killed in it," said neighbour Cathy Cadman, 50, who's lived a few doors from the clubhouse since the summer of 1982. Once a popular neighbourhood variety store, the bikers moved into the building shortly after the store closed. The chapter's London president, Thomas Hughes, moved into an adjacent house at 434 Egerton -- it's also slated for demotion this week. Cadman said the bikers were never a problem, noting a shooting in January 2002 of a rival gang member outside the clubhouse just months before it was raided was the first major incident.
"We were always aware they were bikers," said Cadman. "But they were no trouble. They took out their garbage and cut their grass and they'd be friendly, waving and saying, 'Hello' if you saw them outside." The property was seized by the province under its proceeds of crime legislation and Civil Remedies Act. The city approved the province's application for demolition last week. Ward 4 Coun. Steve Orser has battled to have the building demolished for several years.
"I've had a steady stream of complaints about these buildings, including a rat infestation and other animals getting inside," he said. "It's taken a lot of work but it's finally coming down -- it's a great day for Old East Village." The debris in a garage visible from the street included a pinball machine, vinyl record albums and an Outlaws sign once visible on the front of the two-storey brick home.
The home was surrounded by a cinder block wall, the first-floor windows either bricked in or covered by steel security meshing. Orest Katolyk, manager of bylaw enforcement for the city, said the clubhouse and adjacent home were among the abandoned buildings targeted for enforcement after a rash of arsons in the area of empty buildings. "We had issues with this building being unsafe, especially the condition of the roof, and a building inspector confirmed the building was unsafe," Katolyk said. "Any building that's boarded up where the heat has been turned off rots from the inside out."


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