An exclusive interview with agent Paul DERRY & police handler Shane HALLIDAY
By: Stephen G. Metelsky
“I had the gun. I drove to the murder. I threw away the gun. I knew where it was buried. I knew where all the evidence was,” says Paul Derry, upon the realization he had been directly involved in an underworld contract – a contract to murder at the behest of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.
It was October 3rd, 2000, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The gun in question had just been used to murder Sean Simmons, gunned down right in the lobby of his building on Trinity Avenue. The hit had been ordered by the Hells Angels motorcycle club and Paul Derry was at the epicenter of the homicide.
“When the homicide happened, I was the case manager in the major crime office and he (Derry) showed up one day. He wanted to talk to somebody. I spoke to him and felt this guy is telling me the truth and I think we can use him,” says retired Sergeant Shane Halliday – Derry’s eventual police agent handler.
“There is prison, life in prison, death or witness protection. None of those are really good, unless you change your life,” says Derry, finding himself in a precarious position with limited options. His final decision – wear a wire to incriminate affiliates and members of the Hells Angels responsible for the murder of Simmons.
“We went from there and got in touch with the Crown Attorney. We got immunity agreements done up and started working him,” adds Halliday. The 34-year retired police veteran added: “Then we got him (Derry) all set up and started working him on the guys that were in custody, and the guys that weren’t in custody yet. I’ll give him kudos to wear a wire, I wouldn’t. I mean the people he was dealing with.”
Cooperating witnesses in the underworld, commonly referred to as ‘rats’ – the highest form of betrayal against gangsters who preach loyalty. The punishment for crossing over and helping authorities is typically a death sentence, particularly if caught wired for sound in the company of Hells Angels members. This was the choice Paul Derry made. He had no regrets.
“It’s a terrible title in the underworld. I’m quite proud of it. I guess it depends on who you are. I don’t mind being one of the more notorious rats in the country. I wear it proudly. What I did was a good thing,” says Paul Derry.
Derry’s eventual pathway into the witness protection program encountered some dicey moments during the agent operation into the Hells Angels murder investigation. “Paul was going into a pool establishment (the ‘Corner Pocket’) where all the Hells Angels hung out. I mean he was in there by himself. There were no police inside. He was wearing a wire. Anything could have happened inside. By the time we would have gone in he would have been done,” says Halliday, adding that Derry’s life and security were his number one priority throughout the entire agent operation – concluding with the conviction of the Hells Angels president and three ‘hang-around’ members of the club – all for first-degree murder.
“Security is the number one thing when it comes down to it. You’re not going to risk someone’s life, I mean they are risking their life with what they’re doing, but you don’t want to put them in any worse position just to get the case made, it’s not worth it. We had a couple incidents, if I had been Paul, I would have walked away,” says Halliday, referencing an incident during the operation when someone entered Derry’s unattended residence and lined bullets up on his window ledge.
After the case, Paul Derry entered the witness protection program, changed his name and disappeared.
In August 2018 Paul Derry spoke exclusively with Stephen G. Metelsky from UnderworldStories.com
Below are excerpts from that interview:
Q: Back in 2000 you were involved in a Hells Angels contract killing on the East Coast of Canada, that resulted with you cooperating with authorities. What did that cooperation entail?
Paul DERRY: Well, I started out with the Halifax Regional Police when they arrested me. I was wearing a wire for 90 days. Leading up to that, getting the safe houses ready, getting wired up, continuing to meet and signing up the ‘letter of agreement’ and then doing 90 days on the wire.
Q: Were you an informant or an agent at that stage?
Paul DERRY: I was doing informant work with the Halifax RCMP, feeding them information, up until Sean got killed, and when he got killed Halifax Regional began investigating and found out about my work with the RCMP. I was arrested and signed an immunity agreement with Halifax Regional.
Q: What is the difference between being an informant versus an agent?
Paul DERRY: Being an informant you are working on your own and everything you do is on your own. You are coded and working for a police force, in the sense that when you get information you share it and you have a coded number and you can give it safely. You are covered under informant privilege and likely won’t ever have to testify in court, as opposed to an agent where you are going to be directed by the police. Everything you do is directed by the police. You will be required to testify at the end, if needed. But a very fine line though.
Q: What was your official status or relationship to/with the Hells Angels back in 2000?
Paul DERRY: I wasn’t one of them. I don’t know what level they call them now. I was close enough that I was dealing directly selling keys of cocaine to a full patch (Hells Angels member).
Q: A lot of facets of organized criminal groups tend to work together now more than ever to maximize profits. From your experience how did the different types of bikers work with other organized crime groups?
Paul DERRY: If I can use the analogy of hockey to discuss the relationship with the Italians. The Italians own, and the Hells Angels manage and run it, and then you have the puppet clubs doing the work – they would be the farm teams. They are all inter-related. It’s a pyramid structure, who is at the top and how it’s structured all the way down.
Q: If you could go back Paul, would you do anything differently in your past life?
Paul DERRY: Yes, if I could change anything, I wish I understood it wasn’t a game back then. The entire time I worked as an informant from 15. I started at such a young age, I always saw it as a kind of game. It wasn’t until Sean Simmons was killed when I was 38 that I woke up and realized this wasn’t a game, that it had dire consequences. Even though I had seen people die all around me and I’ve been a part of murders and deaths and tortures and all the stuff that goes on with the blood and guts in that world. I had still seen it as a game up until then. So, if I was going to change anything, it would be to not see it as a game, maybe not drink so much and take the job serious. But, then I can say that I don’t know how effective I would have been, I don’t know.
Q: Organized and true crime sells in the media, whether on the news, movies, television or the internet. Because you lived the real life of an organized criminal, what is the difference between reality versus media portrayals of organized crime?
Paul DERRY: I think in the media, depending on which type of media, but media in general, like movies and stuff, they always want to make (pause) – nobody sees the door shut. I’ll tell you what I told my youngest brother. Nobody sees me cry when that cell door shuts. Nobody sees the pain and fear when I’m sitting there with a shotgun with a mattress up against the door, wondering if someone is kicking it in tonight. You can’t, you don’t put that across in the media in the real way that it happens. You make that sound exciting, but it’s not exciting, it’s scary as hell. There is nothing exciting about it. People dying around you hurts. Having people or knowing a hit team might come through your door any minute to kill you is scary. Knowing that you’re walking into a meeting, people patting you down and everybody has guns, knowing someone could pull a gun out and shoot you at any minute is scary. It’s not exciting. It’s the pain and misery that’s in that world. We glorify that excitement, those fears which we turn to excitement and glorify in the media, but I don’t think we show the pain and the misery of the entirety in that world, like the meth addictions and the things women and men give up being a part of that world, their own souls. They’ll do anything. I’m not sure how graphic you want me to get. Some of the most disgusting and vile things that I’ve seen, I have seen in that world, never mind the internet. We can say people are doing it at their own free will, but often they’ve been coerced, extorted, or groomed.
Q: If you were speaking to a classroom full of high school students what would be your best advice to them?
Paul DERRY: Don’t be lured by money that doesn’t exist. You’re going die early if you follow that road. It’s way more fun not being a criminal. There is even more money to be made in the pro-social world. Most people are going into it to get, I think to find a sense of identity, to find something they are missing in their home. Look for a good role model in and around the community, because there are a lot of them waiting around to help. If things suck at home, don’t worry about it, find someone who will help you in your community. That’s what I would say to the community too. You know, we fail as a community because we allow kids to grow up with no parent(s) to guide them, no way of, or how to prepare for this world. It’s our failures. They’re not going into gangs because everything is hunky-dory. They are going into the gangs because they are missing something.
Q: Are you fearful of anything today?
Paul DERRY: Am I fearful? I would never want my children to see me killed. I’m fearful for the society we are leaving behind for my children, just fearful for my children about the potential society we are leaving for them. But yes, I do have fears as I am human. My concerns are what I mentioned, family, society, etcetera. But yes, I fear like everyone – I just choose to not look at them as they are obstacles.
Q: Can you explain the inner workings of a biker gang and why it is so difficult for police to investigate and infiltrate them?
Paul DERRY: I don’t think its hard. I was asked this question at a source handling course once. I said the reason the police aren’t winning is because they don’t have the money. They don’t have the resources. I don’t think it’s hard to get in. I just don’t think they have the money and the resources to do the operations that they need. You must be serious about the problem and I don’t believe that society is serious about the problem. I think there are lots of good officers that are serious about the problem. And, if they had the resources and the money, they have the informants, and they have the people, and they could get in, but they are out cashed. The bad guys have more money. The bad guys don’t play within the rules and the bad guys have all kinds of money. The good guys must play within certain rules and they don’t have any money. When we stop paying for people’s cars getting scratched, because that’s what we do, we tickle the tax payers’ ears. So, whoever is paying the most taxes, it’s their problems, their little bubble in their little neighbourhood. That’s why we see opioids getting a lot of attention now, because guess what, it’s hitting the tax payers’ families now. Well, it’s only a matter of time before opioids and meth and those kinds of things hit you, so now we’ll start paying attention to it. But it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Greed will not allow people to put their money towards it.
Q: There are very few options to get out of organized crime. From your experience, what are the options getting out of life in organized crime?
Paul DERRY: There is prison, life in prison, death or witness protection. I mean, none of those are good, unless you change your life. Obviously for anybody to leave that life behind there are very few options. Witness protection is probably the best way out for them, but only if they are going to change their entire life. Witness protection is going to suck if you want to try to keep on living as a criminal or you don’t want to break any habits or any of the things you struggled with before. Any of the demons you had before hand.
Q: How many times have you been to jail?
Paul DERRY: My largest sentence was 7 years I did, a few bits before that, I think 18 months, 11 months, 3 months and 1 year.
Q: You briefly alluded to no one being there to see you shed a tear when the jail door is shut and how the media portrayals of organized crime don’t properly capture the reality of it. What is the reality of prison?
Paul DERRY: I think it is a dichotomy for me – I loved prison and I hated prison. Loved the experience, but I love it from where I’m at now. I would not trade going back from where I am now. Only so that I can say things like this now to people, that it is a horrific place to be. It’s depressing. It’s violent, it’s sad. People screaming out in the middle of the night in pain. From internal pain, you know, the emotional pain. You hear it all through the night, it wakes you up. I hear, you know lifers, people that know they’re never getting out. People that are not mentally fit to be in a prison that should be in a psychiatric hospital. The depression and suicides. I never worried as much about the fears, nothing played more on my mind than the suicides. I remember walking the yard and wondering when am I going to snap? Like I was walking the yard with this guy yesterday and he hanged himself last night and he was perfectly normal yesterday. So, when is my mind going to snap? Like he’s only got 8 years in and I’m in my 3rd year, do I snap at the same 8? The degradation. I mean if there’s one thing I have hammered home with my children is you never want to experience the degradation of strip searches and a lot of those kind of things. It’s a sad place to exist. I used to read a lot of crime books when I was young and they all glorify crime as they typically do. It was the one thing I didn’t want to do in my books. I remember when I got my 7 years, I remember walking through, and I thought I aspired to be a criminal and here I am. I aspired to be like all these people that wrote all those books and here I am doing time with them. And I thought wow this is what I aspired to be in life – that’s sad. It’s just a waste of life.
Q: What were the results of your cooperation with the police as an agent after the Hells Angels contract murder?
Paul DERRY: I did a lot of informant work. The result is I ended up in witness protection. Got an immunity agreement. Here I am. I got kicked out in 2009, so I’ve been out of witness protection for 9 years. Here is a thing I will always say to my children. I say it to them often. I will not let the fear of a few control the many. The few should never control the many and I should never have to walk in fear for having done the right thing. So, I don’t care if they kill me, I’m not going to change my life for doing something that I believed was right. If I didn’t believe it was right, I wouldn’t have done it. In all the crimes, and they can go back through my record, anyone can. I never ratted to get out of trouble. Even in this murder, if you look, I mean I wasn’t in trouble, I had all the information. I didn’t need to rat to get out of trouble. All the things I did I did because I wanted to do them. If I wanted to stay in the criminal world I would have stayed in the criminal world. I was done. That murder really took a toll on me. You know, like I said I woke up and realized it wasn’t a game. It wasn’t because I got caught. I didn’t get caught for anything. I told the police for 3 weeks leading up to the murder that it was going to happen. So, there’s no getting caught. I had the gun. I drove to the murder. I threw away the gun. I knew where I buried it. I knew where all the evidence was. I knew what when I was being interrogated what they had and what they didn’t have. I could have just sat it out like a typical criminal would for the year, do my time on remand and walked out and continued with my life. But I just, it was at the end when Sean got killed, it was, like I said a wake-up call. This wasn’t a game, and it was time to stop.
Q: You mentioned the word ‘rat.’ Are you comfortable with that title? And what are the ramifications of having that title in the underworld?
Paul DERRY: It’s a terrible title in the underworld. I’m quite proud of it. I guess it depends on who you are. I laugh all the time. I don’t mind being one of the more notorious rats in the country, I wear it proudly. What I did was a good thing. Listen, I’m not happy that I had to watch Stevie go to jail, to prison for life, or Wayne, these people were close to me. Not so much Neil. I don’t care about him. I didn’t care much for him. It’s never nice or easy to break bread with somebody and become their friend or having been their friend for years and years and then having to watch them suffer in any way and know that you’re the cause of it. Reconciling where you’re the cause of it and when they’re the cause of their own demise can sometimes get blurred out of guilt and you know, emotional things you go through. I have dreams about them all the time. It’s a strange way to live, I can tell you that.
Q: Any feelings of guilt for putting them in prison?
Paul DERRY: Guilt, not so much. Loss, I think, more with someone like Wayne, who was married to my cousin. He was part of my family. I grew up around him. You know, sometimes I dream that the relationship is restored and then I wake up and realize it’s never going to happen. Things like that. I think typical things that any human would go through if they are close to somebody.
Q: What would you say to people who think you should be in prison with those people too?
Paul DERRY: If they want to say that, I think I should be in prison with the rest of them because of all the things I never got caught for, not because of anything to do with that murder. Listen, I was a career criminal. I committed crimes all my life. If you added them all up, sure, I should be in prison the rest of my life. But should I be in prison for that crime? No.
Q: What is your life mission now?
Paul DERRY: I have a few different things I’ve set my heart on. One of them is educating the public on organized crime and how much it truly affects society and kicking the apathetic who live in their bubbles, who are not just ignorant, but they know and just don’t want to do anything about it. That includes the politicians, the police force, the treasury boards and all the people in the control of the funds that stop it from getting done.
Q: What’s next for Paul Derry?
Paul DERRY: I am hopefully putting together an online course on source handling and that will likely be the end of my source handling stuff. I’m leaning more towards organized crime and the effects of human trafficking. I’m also working on a documentary on my entire life, and all the work I did all together. There are many cases that I think are sad. The Hells Angels one is the big one and everyone pays attention to it. And I get that, I understand society’s way of thinking that way. But you know there are murders I’ve worked on, and home invasions, where they were much sadder. I think that (these other cases) would make a bigger impact on society and I would like to see them come out.
(End of Interview)
In 2006 Sergeant Shane Halliday retired from the job.
In 2009 Paul Derry got kicked out of the witness protection program after 9 years.
Accused Steven Gareau has been in jail since 2000. To date, he has been through two trials – both convictions being overturned.
In 2017 Dean Kelsie, the Hells Angels hitman who shot Sean Simmons, won a new trial for his first-degree murder conviction. Two new trials will occur in the fall of 2018.
These are the known facts to date about this case.
As for Paul Derry’s current identity and whereabouts – unknown.
You can see more of Paul Derry’s story on the OUTLAW BIKERS episode: “Contract from Hell” on NETFLIX. An upcoming book & documentary about Derry’s story is soon to be released.
For more information, visit Shane Halliday on TWITTER: @ShaneHalliday
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A. is a freelance crime writer/journalist, criminologist and college professor, with over 20 years experience as a police (ret.) sergeant. Stephen is a contributing columnist with Blue Line magazine and has covered true crime stories for various newspapers affiliated with Metroland Media Group & Postmedia Network Inc.
For more information, visit Stephen G. Metelsky on:
LinkedIn: Stephen G Metelsky LINKEDIN Acct.