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
Hearing begins for accused B.C. serial killer
Robert Pickton calmly takes notes as proceedings get underway
Monday, January 13, 2003
COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) — The man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer
took notes on a yellow legal pad, occasionally smiled and chatted with a
sheriff and listened attentively as his preliminary hearing began today.
Robert Pickton, nattily dressed in a grey sweater with black horizontal
stripes and a crest on the chest, sat behind a bulletproof glass enclosure
as the hearing began in provincial court.
The long-awaited hearing, under a publication ban that prevents
dissemination of any evidence presented, got underway almost a year after
police swooped down on a farm owned by Pickton and two siblings Feb. 5,
The preliminary hearing is held to allow Judge David Stone to determine
if there is enough evidence against Pickton to proceed to a trial that would
not likely begin for at least a year.
The Crown told the judge last week that the initial stage of the hearing
would likely last until the end of April. It could then extend through the
summer, or into the fall if there was a summer break.
Pickton, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer, is charged with killing 15 women
who are among 61 identified as missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
As two police officers testified, Pickton sat slightly slumped in his
high-back chair behind the enclosure, writing on a legal pad and
periodically turning to speak to the sheriff seated with him in the
He appeared to be paying close attention to everything that was being
Immediately after the hearing began, it went into a voir dire that would
allow the judge to determine the admissibility of evidence he hears.
At least 10 TV cameras, including some from U.S. media outlets, recorded
events on the opening day. The camera operators waited outside in the damp
cold along with numerous still photographers and a small army of reporters.
Seating set aside for the public in the courtroom was filled to capacity,
as were the first two rows allotted to the media. Several seats were empty
in the middle rows set aside for relatives of the missing women and
Pickton's alleged victims.
Outside court, Dawn Sangret said she came to show support for the missing
women, some of whom she said she knew.
"I'm here because of Elaine Dumbra ad some of the other girls I knew,"
said Sangret, explaining that she is a trolley driver and got to know some
of the women during stops she made in Gastown, which borders on the Downtown
"I got to know the girls when they tried to bum money from me," she said.
Dumbra is not among those listed as an alleged victim but is one of the
women who is missing. She was last seen in 1984.
Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is also among the missing, has been a
regular at many previous court appearances by Pickton.
"It's a way of showing respect for Dawn and the others," Crey said during
a break. "I want to be here to hear it (the evidence) although it is going
to be hard."
Crown spokesperson Geoff Gaul was asked about possible breaches of the
publication ban by U.S. outlets at the hearing, including the Associated
Press, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times and some
Seattle-based TV stations.
"If there are any breaches that is up to the police to investigate."
Last month, Pickton's defence team lost a battle to have all media and
the public excluded from the courtroom for the preliminary hearing.
The judge, however, said he would listen to subsequent applications from
the defence if there were breaches of the ban.
The 53-year-old Pickton has been in custody since late February, when he
was charged with the murders of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson.
A huge police investigative team has been painstakingly searching
Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm for almost a year.
In the ensuing months, he was also 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.