MONTREAL – A Canadian hit man whose victims included outlaw bikers, mobsters and innocent bystanders pleaded guilty Tuesday to 27 charges of first-degree murder, making him one of Canada's worst killers.
Gerald Gallant, who has become a police informant while already serving a life sentence for a 2001 slaying, also pleaded guilty to 12 charges of attempted murder and a handful of other charges.
The killings between 1978 and 2003 targeted members of motorcycle gangs, mobsters and people in street gangs. Biker gangs have long been a problem in the French-speaking province of Quebec, and most of the murders happened between 1994 and 2002 as the Hells Angels and Rock Machine gangs battled over drug sales.
Gallant's attacks sometimes struck bystanders, such as Helene Brunet, a waitress who was wounded in 2000 by an associate of Robert Savard when Gallant killed Savard.
The previous year, Gallant by mistake fatally shot Luc Bergeron, a private detective who happened to be living in an apartment formerly occupied by the intended target, a Hells Angels associate.
Gallant, 58, apologized Tuesday as he read a prepared statement in front of survivors and relatives of victims in a Quebec City courtroom.
"I regret the hurt I have caused the victims and their families," he said. "I understand that forgiving will be difficult, maybe even impossible. I accept that. I agreed to cooperate with police in order to repair the damage I caused and to seek forgiveness."
Acting on information provided by Gallant, provincial police arrested 10 people across Quebec last week in connection with dozens of murders tied to biker gangs over a quarter century.
"It serves to remind people what a murderous biker war was happening," said Julian Sher, author of two books on Canadian biker gangs. "Twenty-seven gang-related killings out of 160 total biker-related murders during that period. That's stunning."
At least one Quebec man has killed more people than Gallant: Yves Trudeau, a founding member of the Hells Angels in Quebec, was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 after pleading guilty to 43 counts of manslaughter, part of a deal struck in exchange for information about fellow gang members.
Gallant won't get additional jail time, and will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years. Under the plea deal, he is barred from writing a book or making a film about his crimes, but prosecutors said he will get $50 monthly to spend at the prison canteen and receive protection.
Police were first led to Gallant by using his DNA to link him to a slaying from 2001 in Ste-Adele, north of Montreal. He fled to Europe but was eventually arrested in Switzerland in 2006.