Pickton responsible for the death of at least 33 women; possibly 49 says
Kirk Makin and Robert Matas
Vancouver and Ottawa — Globe
and Mail Update
Published on Friday, Jul. 30, 2010 9:47AM EDT
Last updated on Friday, Jul. 30, 2010 2:35PM EDT
Serial killer Robert Pickton is responsible for the death of at least 33
people and possibly as many as 49, RCMP Inspector Gary Shinkaruk told reporters
in Vancouver Friday.
His comments followed news that Mr. Pickton’s conviction of six murders had been
upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Crown prosecutors believe the evidence is sufficient to convict Mr. Pickton of
21 additional murders. Police have recommended charges related to the death of
six other women.
But his killing spree may have caught even more, Insp. Shinkaruk said.
Mr. Pickton has claimed to be responsible for the death of 49 women.
“We are actively investigating to identify those 16 people,” Insp. Shinkaruk
said, adding that police believe it was important for the family of victims and
the public to know what happened to those women.
An exhibit from the Pickton trial, a poster board of 48 missing women shown to
Pickton during the 11 hours interview on day after he was arrested. Names of
those identified in court: #1 Sereena Abotsway; #3 Andrea Joesbury; #4 Mona
Wilson; #17 Georgina Papin; #26 Marnie Frey; #48 Brenda Wolfe.
Earlier, spokesman for the prosecutors Neil MacKenzie said they do not intend to
pursue the outstanding murder charges against Mr. Pickton, who received a life
sentence with no parole for 25 years for the murder of six women. Mr. Pickton
has already received a maximum sentence that is available under Canadian law, he
His sentence begins from his arrest on Feb. 22, 2002. Patrick Storey, a
spokesman for the National Parole Board in the Pacific Region, said Mr. Pickton
would be eligible for day parole and unescorted absences on Feb. 22, 2024 and he
would be eligible for full parole on Feb. 22, 2027. He emphasized that, with a
life sentencing hanging over his head, Mr. Pickton would not automatically
Spokesmen from both the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department endorsed a call by
families of the victims for a public inquiry into the investigation of the
murder. Several women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside went missing before
police began a formal investigation. Police initially told families throughout
the 1990s that the woman may have voluntarily gone missing to change their
Doug LePard, deputy chief for the Vancouver police, offered an apology to the
families. “I wish from the bottom of my heart that we had caught him sooner,” he
said at a news conference.
None of the victims’ families were at the news conference.
Mr. LePard said he wished police could have done better and all the mistakes
they made could be undone. “We’re sorry, from the bottom of our hearts,” he
B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong later told reporters the government has not
yet reached a decision on whether to hold a public inquiry.
In response to questioning, he said he saw “very compelling reasons” to take a
comprehensive look at all or parts of the investigation. But the government has
not yet reviewed the internal reports completed by the RCMP and the Vancouver
police department, he said. Nor has the cabinet discussed the matter, he added.
The RCMP and municipal police departments spent $122.6-million on their
investigations, Al Macintyre, an assistant RCMP commissioner in charge of the
criminal investigation, told reporters. Both the Vancouver police and the RCMP
had internal reviews of how they handled the investigation, reporters were told.
However neither police force was prepared to release the reports to the public.
Both the Crown and police expressed concern and gratitude to the dozens of
families whose loved ones' remains were unearthed on Mr. Pickton's farm.
“We hope that this outcome provides them with some degree of comfort and some
degree of closure. It has been a long process to reach this stage in the
proceedings and we realize it has been difficult and it has required a great
deal of patience on the part of family members,” Mr. MacKenzie said.
Earlier Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Vancouver pig farmer Robert
Pickton's convictions in the gruesome murders of six women.
Artist's sketch shows serial killer Robert Pickton sitting in the prisoner's box
as he listens to closing arguments at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster,
B.C., on Nov. 19, 2007.
In a 9-0 ruling this morning, the Court said that the prosecution evidence
against Mr. Pickton was "overwhelming," and it would constitute a grave mistake
to grant him a retrial because of a judicial error that was ultimately cleared
The judgment nailed shut the most gruesome serial killing case in Canadian legal
"Certainly, this was a long and difficult trial — but it was also a fair one,"
Mr. Justice LeBel said.
"Despite the errors set out above, there was no miscarriage of justice
occasioned by the trial proceedings. Mr. Pickton was entitled to the same
measure of justice as any other person in this country. He received it. He is
not entitled to more."
Convicted in 2007 on six charges of second-degree murder in the gruesome deaths
of six Vancouver prostitutes and sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance
of parole for 25 years, Mr. Pickton still faces another 20 counts of murder.
The B.C. Crown indicated several times since the trial that it would prosecute
those additional murders if the Supreme Court were to order a new trial on the
original six murder charges.
A painstaking police search of Mr. Pickton's farm uncovered human remains, DNA
and other evidence that allegedly connected him to more than two dozen murders.
After an arduous case that consumed five years, featured 129 witnesses and
included 1.3-million pages of documents, Mr. Pickton argued that he was not
given a fair trial.
When the trial began, the Crown had portrayed Mr. Pickton as the sole killer. It
alleged that he lured the women to his farm, shot them, butchered their bodies
in his slaughterhouse and buried the remains in different locations.
Artist's sketch shows accused serial killer Robert Pickton taking notes as Judge
James Williams instructs the jury at Pickton's murder trial in New Westminster,
B.C., Nov. 30, 2007. (Reuters)
The key question for the Supreme Court revolved around an incident on the sixth
day of jury deliberations. The jury returned to ask the B.C. Supreme Court's Mr.
Justice James Williams whether they could still convict Mr. Pickton if they
decided that he had not acted alone.
The judge told the jury they could indeed find Mr. Pickton guilty, if he killed
the women “or was otherwise an active participant” in the killings. He said that
it would be sufficient for them to conclude that Mr. Pickton had “actively
participated” in the murders.
Soon afterward, the jury convicted Mr. Pickton on all six counts in the deaths
of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe
and Marnie Frey.
However, Judge Williams’ instruction contradicted his original admonition –
delivered prior to the jury deliberations – which stated that the Crown had to
prove that Mr. Pickton had actually killed the women.
Today, the Supreme Court said that far from Mr. Pickton suffering, the judicial
instruction had theoretically worked in his favour.
Writing for a six-judge faction of the Court, Madam Justice Louise Charron wrote
that it was "completely erroneous in law" for the trial judge to have originally
stated that the jury had to find Mr. Pickton was the actual shooter in order to
Backed by 2-1 judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal in their favour, Crown
counsel Gregory Fitch and John Gordon staunchly defended Judge Williams’s
decision in the Supreme Court at a hearing last year. At the same time, they
conceded that their colleagues had dropped the ball at trial by agreeing to have
jurors told that Mr. Pickton could only be convicted of murdering six sex-trade
workers if he was the actual killer.
However, she noted approvingly that, after the jury revealed its puzzlement
through a question to the judge, he correctly retracted this element of his
instruction. The judge told the jurors that Mr. Pickton could be equally guilty
if he had been merely an active participant in the killings.
"This case was never about whether the accused had a minor role in the killing
of the victims," Judge Charron added. "It was about whether or not he had
actually killed them. The instructions as a whole adequately conveyed to the
jury what it needed to know to consider the alternate routes to liability
In his concurring reasons, written on behalf of Mr. Justice Ian Binnie and Mr.
Justice Morris Fish, Judge LeBel said that the confusing jury instructions about
the role Mr. Pickton had played in the murders augered strongly to his benefit.
"There was overwhelming evidence of the accused’s participation in the murders
and, from whichever perspective his participation is considered, he was
necessarily either a principal or an aider or abettor," Judge LeBel said.
"Indeed, a properly instructed jury would likely have convicted the accused of
first degree rather than second degree murder.
"On a review of the record, in my opinion, the Crown presented compelling,
overwhelming evidence of the participation of Mr. Pickton in the murders. From
whichever perspective we consider the participation of Mr. Pickton, on the
evidence, he was necessarily either a principal or an aider or abettor. It would
surpass belief that a properly instructed jury would not have found him guilty
of murder in the presence of such cogent evidence of his involvement."
Read the full Supreme Court judgment
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