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A-G proposes Pickton defence funding

A lawyer representing the attorney-general concedes it will take longer than expected to get detailed financial records

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

Saturday, October 26, 2002

There was new hope Friday that a funding agreement might soon be reached that would allow defence lawyers for accused serial killer Robert (Willy) Pickton to return to the case.

Robert Pickton is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder in connection with Vancouver's missing women case. (CP)

Lawyer Silvia Martorana, representing the attorney-general, told B.C. Supreme Court that the ministry has changed its position and is willing to enter into an interim financial agreement with Pickton's defence team.

"There's a lot more pressure obviously on now," Martorana told Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm. "They are prepared to make a proposal for an interim funding agreement."

Martorana said earlier that the government was not prepared to enter into an agreement until Pickton provided detailed financial information about where the money was spent from land sales estimated in the millions of dollars.

But Friday she said the government now accepts it will take much longer for Pickton to provide detailed records.

But even if the money is forthcoming, all sides acknowledged that it will come too late for lawyers to adequately prepare for Pickton's preliminary hearing on Nov. 4.

Pickton remains officially unrepresented on 15 counts of first-degree murder that he is facing in connection with the deaths of women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Lawyers Peter Ritchie and Marilyn Sanford formally withdrew from the case Oct. 11 because the government has not provided any funding to cover the team, which Ritchie said should consist of six lawyers plus experts and private investigators.

Ritchie reiterated Friday that his client has always been prepared to provide the financial information, but that it will take much longer.

And he said Pickton is virtually broke, with just $1,600 in his bank account and overdue credit card bills.

Pickton has signed an indemnity agreement surrendering his assets and future income to government, Ritchie said.

Ritchie said he doesn't know what the interim offer is going to be.

"We can only wait to see what they are going to say to us," Ritchie said. "I suppose I remain somewhat optimistic that we can resolve it quickly but it is a cautious optimism."

But Ritchie said he was not prepared to request an adjournment of the preliminary hearing because Pickton, 53, had instructed him that he wanted to go ahead even if it means without a lawyer.

"Our client [is the one] who's in jail and our client wants his day in court and wants to get it as quickly as possible," Ritchie said.

But with 12 boxes full of disclosure, as well as computer disks and other evidence, Ritchie said it would be difficult for any lay person to prepare in time.

"It is entirely impossible for anyone to absorb that information in the time he has," Ritchie said. "I doubt that he can do it at all. He is not a sophisticated person."

Dohm said in a case like the one against Pickton "he is going to have to have counsel."

"He is not going to be able to do it alone," Dohm said.

But Crown prosecutors are now sending disclosure directly to Pickton in his jail cell at Port Coquitlam's North Fraser Pre-trial Centre.

Ritchie said he would decide whether to send over his boxes of material after he had some discussions with the government.

Ritchie made a Rowbotham application in Supreme Court on behalf of Pickton, which is a request to stay the charges against a person who would not normally qualify for legal aid, but does not have enough to pay his legal team.

Meanwhile, the internet auction service ebay.ca has pulled an ad from a man who was claiming to sell soil taken from the Port Coquitlam farm.

Police have contacted the seller who has apologized and said it was all a hoax.

Email Kim Bolan at: kbolan@pacpress.southam.ca

 Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016