VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Crown's 1997 file on Pickton mistakenly destroyed with other files, inquiry told
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN APRIL 12, 2012
VANCOUVER -- The Crown file about the vicious 1997 attack by serial killer Robert Pickton on a sex worker who survived was accidentally destroyed, acting regional Crown Andrew MacDonald testified Thursday at the Missing Women inquiry.
The destruction of the file violated the Crown's policy to retain for 75 years serious criminal files such as attempted murder, robbery and aggravated.
MacDonald said the Pickton criminal file was ordered destroyed on Aug. 31, 2001, and was among 50 boxes of Crown files that were mistakenly destroyed by a mobile shredding truck, which had a contract to dispose of files.
The destruction mistake was made by three Crown employees who all made the same error, he said.
The Pickton file was a "red file" it had a red file cover that denoted that it was a serious criminal case that was should be given a high priority.
The file stemmed from Pickton being charged for a knife attack on a sex worker from the Downtown Eastside, who had been taken to Pickton's farm on March 23, 1997.
The victim, called Ms. Anderson at the inquiry because there is a ban on her name, told police that she feared for life when Pickton put a handcuff on one of her wrists.
She said she began fighting with him and grabbed a kitchen knife, which she used to slash Pickton's neck. But he got the knife and repeatedly stabbed her. When Pickton loosened his grip, Anderson ran to the street and flagged down a passing car.
Anderson died twice on the hospital operating table but survived.
Pickton was charged with attempted murder, unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault.
Cameron Ward, the lawyer representing 25 families of missing and murdered women at the inquiry, earlier told inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal that had Pickton been prosecuted in 1998 on the charges, he might not have gone on to killed the loved ones of 19 families.
In her third and final day of testimony Thursday, prosecutor Randi Connor, who handled the case, explained why the charges against Pickton were dropped on Jan. 26, 1998.
She decided to enter a stay of proceedings against Pickton because Anderson was too high on heroin to be coherent, days before the trial was to start.
"She was in a terrible condition and I couldn't put her on the [witness] stand," Connor said. "What I was presented with was a person in very bad shape."
She said she cared about the victim, feeling she was very vulnerable, but felt Anderson's drug addiction undermined the charge approval standard: a substantial likelihood of conviction.
She said she entered the stay of proceedings to leave the door open if the women cleaned up her drug use and was in better shape to testify.
A Crown stay of charges allows the Crown to bring charges against the accused for up to a year, but the charges were never reactivated.
Ward, in his re-examination of Connor after a new Crown document was disclosed Thursday, asked the witness if she was aware that another Crown, Geoff Barager, managed to get Anderson to testify in 2003 about the same evidence at the preliminary hearing of Pickton, who by then was charged with multiple murders.
Connor recalled speaking to Barager, who said Anderson was "quite out of it" when he first met with her.
"Mr. Barager was telling me her drug addiction was much less [then] but he was still having problems," Connor recalled.
Anderson was scheduled to testify at the inquiry this week but decided she didn't want to relive the horror of what she went through 15 years ago.
Commission counsel Art Vertlieb said Anderson has turned her life around, is married and has children.
The inquiry, which is probing why Pickton wasn't caught sooner, will resume Monday. Pickton was convicted of killing six women in 2007. He once confided that he had killed 49 women.
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Updated: August 21, 2016