VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Police should have caught serial killer Robert Pickton by 1998, lawyer tells inquiry
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN JUNE 4, 2012
VANCOUVER - The Missing Women inquiry should find that "incompetence" by the Vancouver police department prevented the force from catching serial killer Robert Pickton in 1998, a lawyer told the inquiry today.
"The Vancouver police failed the people of this city and this province...and failed in their duty to investigate these crimes," Darrell Roberts told inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal during final submissions today.
"The best chance of catching the killer was 1998 when he was active," said the lawyer, who has been practising for almost 50 years.
Roberts, who is representing the mother of one of Pickton's victims, said the Vancouver police had sufficient evidence from an informant in 1998 to apply for a warrant to search Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam.
He pointed out that Vancouver police had the grounds to investigate the crime of women being kidnapped by fraud - he suggested Pickton used a ruse to pick up dozens of women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside with the hidden intent to kill them on his farm.
"Death caused during that crime is first-degree murder," the lawyer pointed out, asking Oppal to make a finding of fact that the VPD should have caught Pickton by the fall of 1998 but failed.
Roberts pointed out that the VPD had an informant who said that Pickton had a meat grinder to dispose of bodies and should have worked with Coquitlam RCMP, which had already charged Pickton with attempted murder of a sex trade worker, called Ms. Anderson at the inquiry, who escaped the Pickton farm in 1997 after she was repeatedly stabbed by Pickton.
The Crown, however, stayed the charges against Pickton in early 1998 after finding the sex trade worker was high on drugs and was not a reliable witness.
No efforts were made to help the sex trade worker so she could testify in court and the Crown could re-instate the charges.
Roberts suggested the RCMP also failed to properly investigate Pickton's crime of uttering death threats when he told people he wanted to get Anderson on his farm so he could "finish her off."
"One would like to think police forces can talk to each other without their egos getting in the way," Roberts told the inquiry.
Pickton wasn't caught until his arrest in February 2002, when a rookie Coquitlam RCMP officers executed a search warrant on the Pickton farm to check for illegal guns.
Police found the guns but also the identification of missing women and bags of bloody clothes. It then became a homicide investigation.
An informant, Bill Hiscox, had told Vancouver police in 1998 that Pickton had women's ID and bags of bloody clothes on his farm.
Police eventually found the remains or DNA of 33 missing women. He was charged with 27 murders and convicted of six counts at his first trial in 2007.
After Pickton exhausted all appeals, the Crown decided not to proceed on a second murder trial against Pickton, who once confided he killed 49 women.
The Missing Women inquiry, which began Oct. 11, was supposed to submit its final report to government by June 30 but has been given a four-month extension.
Lawyer Jason Gratl, representing Downtown Eastside interests at the inquiry, will make his final submissions at 1:30 p.m. today.
The inquiry can be watched live on the internet at: http://www.missingwomeninquiry.ca/
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Updated: August 21, 2016