VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Pickton lawyer expects fight over evidence
He'll ask judge to rule on what prosecutors must disclose to him prosecutors
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
The lawyer for accused serial killer Robert (Willy) Pickton is bracing for a showdown with Crown prosecutors over the disclosure of evidence before next November's preliminary hearing.
Peter Ritchie said he disagrees with the prosecution team over what it is obligated to hand over to the defence and will likely make applications to the court this summer.
Pickton, 52, is now charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Brenda Ann Wolfe, Heather Bottomley, Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Jacquilene McDonell, Diane Rock and Andrea Joesbury. All of the women were on the list of 54 who have gone missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in recent years.
The Port Coquitlam pig farmer made a brief video-link court appearance Tuesday as Crown prosecutor Michael Petrie requested the case be put over until the preliminary hearing begins Nov. 4.
Ritchie agreed, but told the court he intends to ask the judge to rule on the disclosure issues.
"There is going to be some jostling between the Crown and the defence over disclosure," Ritchie told provincial court Judge David Stone.
Outside court, Ritchie explained to reporters that because a massive police investigation continues at Pickton's property, investigators don't want some evidence handed over to the defence team.
"The police investigation is on-going so the police do not want to reveal to the defence the nature of the on-going investigation. But of course, the defence needs to prepare their case," Ritchie said. "So of course there is going to be a considerable conflict in the way that we resolve that."
Ritchie said his team continues to analyse the "considerable disclosure" received so far, but will prepare applications on the outstanding material.
"There will be major issues as to the nature of the case that is going to be presented against our client. I don't want to specify much more," he said. "We know what we have and what they are holding back, we have a pretty good idea. Sometimes we need courts to tell us what the proper thing to do is and that's why we expect to be back some time in August."
Just a handful of family members of the missing women showed up in court -- down considerably from the crowd that showed up last month when Pickton appeared in person under heavy security.
Sandra Gagnon, whose sister Janet Henry went missing in 1997, said she will keep showing up for all Pickton's court appearances, even if there is a break between now and the fall.
"My niece and I continue to come just to hear what's going on," she said with her niece, Shelley Joseph, by her side.
Meanwhile, one of the first people to call police about the Port Coquitlam farm made an emotional trip back to the site on Dominion Avenue Tuesday.
Bill Hiscox, who said he worked for Pickton in 1997 and 1998, called police four years ago to report his suspicions about the property.
Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun
Bill Hiscox was one of the first to contact police back in 1998 with suspicions about Robert Pickton and missing women.
Hiscox has been living in Campbell River, but made the trek to the Lower Mainland to attend Pickton's brief court appearance.
"I wanted to see what was really going on down here and if justice was really being served. I went forward four years ago," Hiscox said.
As he watched a police bulldozer digging at the north end of the property, Hiscox said he hoped the families of the missing women would all get closure.
"The families certainly need some answers," he said.
He pointed out Pickton's trailer a short distance in front, and then the barn behind it where he said Pickton used to work on his vehicles and where Hiscox would collect paycheques for the demolition work he did for about four months.
"What an eerie feeling. It is just an eerie, eerie feeling. Just looking at the flags and knowing ... they found some DNA and knowing that I was here," Hiscox said.
He said his old employer looked "run-down, haggard and a little thin in the face" on the video link from jail Tuesday.
"He didn't look too well as far as I could see," Hiscox said.
He also said he has been approached by Ritchie about being a witness for the defence in the case.
Acquaintances have suggested to him that he might be eligible for the $100,000 reward first offered in 1999 in the missing women case, Hiscox said.
"There was mention of something like that yes. Right now that is probably the farthest thing from my mind," he said. "I just want to see justice done."
He said he never saw women with Pickton specifically, though there were always people coming and going from the property.
"He was always a loner. I seen him always alone by himself," Hiscox said.
He said he hopes that police will have to explain some day why more wasn't done to follow up when he alerted them to the property years before a search warrant was finally executed in February of this year.
"They knew about this in 1998."
© Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016