artist's drawing of alleged serial killer Robert Pickton was done
Jan. 11, 2002, in court at Port Coquitlam, B.C., during an
appearance to complete details for his preliminary hearing. He is
charged with 15 murders of missing Vancouver women, dating back to
Judge warns media covering Pickton hearing
Reporters 'put on notice' over publication ban violations
COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) — The judge in the Robert Pickton serial-murder case
issued a stern warning to the media today about violating a ban on
publishing evidence disclosed in the preliminary hearing.
Provincial court Judge David Stone said members of the media who break
the ban during Pickton's preliminary hearing could be barred from the
courtroom and face two years in jail if convicted.
He warned reporters they must guard themselves accordingly.
"I'm not excluding anybody from the courtroom but the parties have been
put on notice," said Stone. "If this doesn't sink in, if these problems
persist, then we'll start restricting access."
The judge's order, posted on the courtroom door, spelled out the terms of
the ban, "including any submissions, representations or rulings respecting
evidence or the nature of the evidence taken at the preliminary hearing of
Robert William Pickton.
"This ban extends to any publication in any newspaper, on the Internet or
broadcast by any means."
U.S. media outlets had posted stories concerning the evidence on their
Those disobeying the order would be guilty of an indictable offence under
the Criminal Code and liable to imprisonment for no more than two years, the
However, Stone appeared to stop short of indicating journalists would be
imprisoned for the next transgression.
"Any further reporting (of evidence) will be dealt with by the exclusion
of those individuals from the courtroom," he said.
Stone addressed the warning to all media but singled out two reporters
from the Seattle Times, who were not in court today, and Jeremy Hainsworth,
a Canadian journalist covering the hearing for The Associated Press. The
judge put him on notice.
No lawyers made submissions at this morning's hearing.
The controversy over media coverage resulted in the preliminary hearing
being put on hold Tuesday, the second day of proceedings.
Pickton is accused of killing 15 of the more than 60 women who have
disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years.
Defence and Crown lawyers alleged Tuesday that both Canadian and foreign
media outlets had breached the wide-ranging ban on publishing evidence.
Both sides worry public disclosure of the evidence against Pickton could
make it difficult to assemble an unbiased jury in the long, complex murder
The preliminary hearing will take months, followed by an equally long
Stone said Tuesday he had the option of prohibiting U.S. media from the
courtroom if they did not "live up to the spirit of the ban."
Pickton, 53, has been in custody since last February, when he was charged
with two murder counts in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson.
A huge police investigative team has been painstakingly searching
Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm since that arrest.
Since his arrest, Pickton has also been charged with the murders of Diane
Rock, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe,
Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Georgina Papin,
Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.
The 15 were among 61 women from the Downtown Eastside - mostly
drug-addicted prostitutes - who disappeared from the poverty-stricken
The murder counts against Pickton so far are four more than the number
admitted to by Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson.