Saturday, October 25

Stand By Me - Beautiful International Version

The song Stand By Me performed by many artists in different countries. From Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. Official web site:

Cameron speaks about Pickton murder case at local university

Published Saturday October 25th, 2008

For The Daily Gleaner

Award-winning author and journalist Stevie Cameron spoke at St. Thomas University recently about her investigation into one of Canada's most notorious serial killers, Robert Pickton.

Pickton's case has been largely unheard of because of court publication bans and a lack of public interest, Cameron said, but it is a story that must be told.

"When people hear about what I'm working on they shudder and say they don't want to know about it because of the gruesome details," she said.

Cameron is waiting for Pickton's trial to finish and the publication ban to be lifted before releasing her book about the case, The Pig Farm.

In 2007, Cameron published The Pickton File, a memoir of her six-year investigation of the women who disappeared from Vancouver's infamous Downtown East Side.

"If you visit the Downtown East Side, I know you'll be shocked by the poverty you see," Cameron said. "The wounded and the aimless - there's nothing else like it in Canada. But it is a community and when someone goes missing in it, the people notice."

Cameron said more than 60 per cent of the evidence in the case is covered by the publication ban and that it won't be lifted until after the appeals are complete, no sooner than March.

Pickton, a pig farmer from Vancouver, has been charged with the murder of 27 women and convicted of killing six, but he claims to have killed 49 people.

The case has been ongoing for nearly seven years. At a cost of $200 million, it has become the most expensive in Canadian history.

About 600 swabs of DNA evidence were taken from Pickton's farm, which is believed to be the largest crime scene in Canadian history.

Cameron said many of the missing women were prostitutes, poverty stricken and addicted to drugs, but their stories need to be told.

"People say these women made their choice (by being prostitutes). I don't believe that," she said.

"It's easy to forget the people at the heart of this story. I don't recoil at the gruesome details because I know the families and I feel I know the girls who were murdered. And I feel they should matter."

Cameron is currently the Irving chairwoman of journalism at STU.

She is best known for her book, On the Take, an expose of the corruption and scandals surrounding the Mulroney government during the Airbus scandal.

Cameron has also worked as a contributing editor of Maclean's magazine, the founder and editor Elm Street magazine and the host of the Fifth Estate.

© 2008 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc. All rights reserved.

Stevie Cameron

Wednesday, October 22

Media seeks access to videos and other exhibits filed at Robert Pickton's first trial

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NEW WESTMINSTER - Nothing could be more prejudicial to the possible second trial of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton than the guilty verdict and sentencing at the first trial last year, a media lawyer argued recently in an effort to get videotapes and other exhibits from that trial released.

"Multiple trial scenarios are nothing new," media lawyer Dan Burnett told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams during a three-day hearing last week.

The judge, who has reserved judgment on the media application, initially banned publication of the legal arguments but subsequently lifted most of the ban, allowing the media to report on the proceedings.

Burnett told the judge that in this case, it was Pickton who sought to be tried first on six of the 26 charges he was facing "with the obvious effect of creating the situation in which the second trial must occur with the evidence and verdict from the first trial known to the public."

The lawyer cited previous cases involving multiple trials, such as that of Kelly Ellard, who is facing a fourth trial, and that of Abbotsford killer Terry Driver.

Burnett said "our justice system is not so fragile that it cannot handle those situations."

He argued: "Where the basis of the ban is to guard against prejudicing a future jury, the jurisprudence emphasizes the faith the courts have in jurors, the selection procedures, and other safeguards, even in the face of extreme publicity and even in situations of multiple trials."

Burnett cited a ruling by former judge Wally Oppal, who observed: "It should also be noted that in the past, in this jurisdiction and in this country, there have been some noteworthy cases that involved an inordinate amount of pretrial publicity followed by multiple trials."

Oppal cited the cases of killers Darren Huenemann (1993), Jelka Pesic (1993), and Josephakis Charalambous, which all proceeded "in an uneventful manner in spite of extensive pretrial publicity and overlapping evidence" from multiple trials involving co-accused.

Burnett argued that the courts, including rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada, have established principles in favour of court openness because most people learn about court proceedings through the media.

Among the trial exhibits the media seeks access to are two videotapes that were considered key evidence at Pickton's trial.

One is a so-called confession tape, where Pickton made a number of incriminating statements to his cellmate in jail, who was an undercover police officer posing as a criminal.

The other is the videotape of Pickton's formal statement to police after his arrest for murder on Feb. 22, 2002.

Burnett argued that the media have already provided full transcriptions of what was said on the videotapes and described Pickton's demeanour at the time.

The defence, which opposed releasing the tapes, cited an affidavit by Sonya Chopra, a California jury consultant who viewed the videotapes.

Chopra concluded the videos could be prejudicial because they are more "vivid" than other ways of conveying information, pointing out some research indicates "vivid" information has more impact than non-vivid information.

The media retained Jonathan Freedman, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who prepared a rebuttal report to Chopra's findings.

The media is also seeking access to a number of voir dire rulings, which involved some evidence never heard by the jury because it was ruled inadmissible.

"Justice must be done and must be seen to be done," Burnett argued. "The lengthy list of voir dires illustrates the vast amount of important information about this trial which has not been reported to the public.

"The principles regarding the importance of open court, public scrutiny, and role of the media in reporting to the public on court proceedings, are all encompassed in the fundamental importance of s. 2(b) [of the Canadian Charter]. Open justice and public scrutiny is a fundamental cornerstone of our justice system."

The judge's ruling on the media application is expected sometime next month.

Pickton, 59, was originally charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder but the judge decided to sever 20 counts, splitting the charges into two trials.

The first trial, which dealt with a six-count murder indictment, ended last Dec. 9 with a jury convicting Pickton on six counts of second-degree murder. He received a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

All his victims were women who lived and worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The 11-month trial heard evidence of how Pickton lured women to his farm in Port Coquitlam, where Pickton regularly slaughtered pigs.

Pickton has filed an appeal of his conviction - and the Crown has filed a cross appeal - that will be heard next March 30. It is set for seven days.

Oppal, now B.C. attorney-general, announced earlier this year that if Pickton's appeal fails and his conviction is upheld, the Crown will not proceed with a second murder trial on the remaining 20 counts, a decision that disappointed victims' families.

Rick Frey, the father of one of Pickton's victims, Marnie Frey, has expressed his support for the media gaining access to the exhibits that have not been made public.

So has Lilliane Beaudoin, the sister of Dianne Rock, one of Pickton's alleged victims to be dealt with at the second trial.

"We thank Dan Burnett and we ask that he keeps up the fight for justice for the families that want justice," Beaudoin said.

© Vancouver Sun

Sunday, October 19

Cold Cases: Seeking justice for Molly, 65 years later

Saanich police take new look at case of teen girl stabbed to death at Swan Lake in 1943

Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw
Times Colonist

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A single brown cardboard box filled with letters, notebooks, an unidentified knife, three leather gloves and other curious bits of evidence is all that remains of one of the most famous cold cases in Victoria's history.

Last reviewed in 1996, the file officially remains open, inactive and unsolved. But Saanich police have long believed they know who killed the 15-year-old seamstress on Jan. 18, 1943; they just never got a chance to prove it.

"As I read the evidence at the disposal of investigators, I'm saying to myself, 'If I had that much evidence today, I think I could make that fly," Insp. Rob McColl, head of the Saanich police major crime section, said in a recent interview at his office -- which, in a case rich with irony, now overlooks the spot where a girl named Justice fell 65 years ago.

Few crimes still resonate on Vancouver Island like Molly's killing.

The Times Colonist's recent efforts to highlight cold cases of missing or murdered people prompted numerous calls from readers wondering about the status of the 65-year-old homicide.

So, at the newspaper's request, Saanich police pulled the file from a storage locker one more time and pored over the evidence.

- - -

It was just after 6 p.m. when Anneta Margaret Clive "Molly" Justice stepped off the bus on Douglas Street near Swan Lake on her way home from work at a Victoria garment factory on Jan. 18, 1943.

Taking a shortcut, the 15-year-old headed along the CN rail line at what is now the Galloping Goose Trail near Saanich municipal hall, but never made it to her home on Brett Avenue.

Her body was found beside the tracks four hours later. She had been beaten and stabbed. One of the more than 30 wounds severed her jugular vein. There were no signs of sexual assault.

Retired lawyer Cecil Branson, who spent years researching and writing an unpublished manuscript about the case, was eight years old in 1943. He still remembers the shock of reading about Molly's death.

"It was in the middle of a war where people were dying overseas, but nobody at home," he said. "It's the thing that I remember from that time, other than the war news."

For three months, the police investigation failed to turn up a suspect. Then, in May, an 11-year-old girl reported being sexually assaulted near Swan Lake by a boy who threatened to do to her what he had done to Molly Justice.

Later that day, police arrested 15-year-old Frank Hulbert, also known as Frank Pepler. But, although he was charged and convicted of the assault two weeks later, Hulbert managed to convince investigators that he was no killer.

Instead, he pointed the finger at William Mitchell, a 49-year-old former RCMP officer with no criminal record who worked with Hulbert at a Victoria paint factory. Hulbert claimed Mitchell had confessed to the crime.

Police arrested Mitchell on June 15, 1943, charged him with first-degree murder and seized a bloodstained knife from his rooming house.

Fortunately for Mitchell, another co-worker, Lewis Kamann, testified at the trial five months later that Mitchell left work too late on the night of the murder to have been at the scene when the girl was killed. Mitchell, testifying in his own defence, said the blood on the knife was his own.

The jury believed Mitchell and Kamann over Hulbert and acquitted Mitchell, saving him from the death penalty.

For the next 25 years, the case appeared stalled, despite the fact Hulbert, on a number of occasions, reportedly admitted to killing Molly himself.

Then, in 1967, Saanich police succeeded in getting Hulbert charged with perjury for lying about Mitchell's involvement. After two trials, he was convicted and sentenced to four and half years in prison.

Police, however, were never able to convince the Crown to lay a murder charge. Hulbert died in 1996 in Port Alberni, and Saanich police subsequently announced their belief that he was Molly's killer.

The flurry of stories at the time raised new questions about whether Hulbert had escaped punishment because he was related to Eric Pepler, deputy attorney general from 1934 to 1954. To restore confidence in the justice system, then-attorney general Ujjal Dosanjh asked a former judge to investigate.

But Martin Taylor found no conclusive evidence that Pepler was related to Hulbert, let alone that he interfered in the case. Nor was Taylor able to say for sure that Hulbert was guilty.

"Before saying today that we believe on reasonable grounds that Frank Hulbert murdered Molly Justice, we would do well to remember that those responsible for the Saanich police investigation said the same thing of William Mitchell," Taylor wrote in his 147-page report.

Today, police might have been able to provide a more definitive answer, given advances in forensic techniques. Hair that was apparently found underneath Molly's fingernails could have been analyzed to obtain a DNA profile. A fingerprint recovered from the contents of her discarded purse could have been run through a databank system for a possible match.

But both those pieces of evidence have been lost to history.

"We believe all the real evidence was destroyed at some point, or it never made it back here and where it went we don't know," Saanich Sgt. John Price said.

"If we could locate the exhibits that I know of, which are limited to the print and the hair, then yes, modern technology could assist us there," added Saanich Insp. Rob McColl.

There's no paper record to show where they went for sure, but they aren't in today's police evidence box. Without them, McColl admits, investigators can only reread old letters and previous reviews of the file. All the witnesses and suspects are dead.

The Molly Justice file bears little resemblance to the meticulous work demanded of police today. In preparation for this story, Saanich police reread documents and submitted evidence to the department's forensic identification division. A set of previously unlabelled fingerprints were found to belong to Molly, taken after she was killed.

Nobody is quite sure of the significance of a small, unlabelled brown-handled knife found in an envelope in the evidence box. The forensics division determined there were no traces of blood on the blade.

"Is it the murder weapon? I don't know," said McColl.

The case appears to both frustrate and fascinate the veteran cop. But McColl said there's not enough hope of solving it to pull busy detectives off other files.

It would require new evidence, and a court order, to exhume Molly's or Hulbert's body for DNA collection, and even then there's no guarantee of finding samples or having anything to compare them to, said McColl.

For the most part, the surviving members of Molly's family say they've also moved on. Molly's sister-in-law, Marjorie, was instrumental in pushing police to review the case in 1996. She passed away last November.

"I don't think we talk about it anymore," said Ken Justice, 56, Marjorie's son and Molly's nephew. "Her feelings were that it was put to rest."

Using DNA to find evidence seems pointless, he added. "There's no real source of justice going to happen, because the fella has passed away himself."

"We've left it alone and we ourselves as a family haven't gone into it any more. It was so long ago now. But the generation of Justices is still going on, right in Victoria. Dad had six of us, four girls, myself and a brother. There's 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren."

The killing of Molly Justice is one of only four unsolved murders in Saanich. Pregnant teenager Cheri Lynn Smith was found dead in the bushes on Munns Road in 1990. Bobby Johal was gunned down in his Cordova Bay driveway in 2003. Realtor Lindsay Buziak, 24, was stabbed to death Feb. 2 in an empty house she was trying to sell in Gordon Head.

Molly's killing is also one of the oldest on Vancouver Island. But her case seems destined to remain officially open, partially solved, and perhaps permanently stalled.

"You can't say unequivocally that Frank Hulbert did it, and I'm not prepared to say that either," McColl said. "I think that's a matter that has to be decided by a competent court.

"However, all of the evidence would lead an ordinary, normal, common individual, a person of sound mind, to come to a reasonable conclusion that there's a strong likelihood Frank Hulbert was responsible for this homicide."

If you have information about any cold cases, or suggestions for future stories, you can reach Lindsay Kines at 250-381-7890 or and Rob Shaw at 250-380-5350 or

The story of the killing of Molly Justice is part of an ongoing Times Colonist series by reporters Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw that highlights unsolved cases of missing or murdered people from the Island, and examines new techniques being used to solve old crimes.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Saturday, October 18

More needs to be done about missing women

More needs to be done about missing women: aboriginal group
Lana Haight
The StarPhoenix

Government and the media ought to be making more of the issue of missing aboriginal women in Canada, says a national Native organization.

"There is this silence going on in Canada, with the media, with the government. And why are our women being targeted?" said Theresa Ducharme, community development co-ordinator with the Native Women's Association of Canada in Ottawa.

On Friday, at a seminar in Saskatoon aimed at raising awareness among those working in the justice community, Ducharme and colleague Andrea Still confirmed that since 1944, 509 aboriginal women and girls have either been murdered or have gone missing in Canada. Most of those women were younger than 30. In all these years, only 12 missing aboriginal women have been found alive.

Problems such as poverty, lack of housing and insufficient services aimed at aboriginal people are rooted in larger issues.

"That all stems back to colonization. That all stems back to residential schools. That all stems back to the Indian Act. It's a continuation of genocide. It's a strong word, but that's the reality," said Ducharme.

Among the 40 people registered for Friday's workshop were Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill, several justice students, officials with Saskatchewan Justice and community workers. Saskatoon was the eighth stop on a 10-city tour of the Sisters in Spirit Justice Community Awareness workshops.

Three years ago, the Native Women's Association of Canada launched Sisters in Spirit to raise awareness of missing women and girls, to develop ways of improving how the community responds to violence against aboriginal women and to conduct research into the issue of missing women.

In its short history, the organization has accomplished much, Ducharme and Still said. In 2006, Sisters in Spirit vigils were held in 11 communities in Canada. The next year, that number was up to 30. And this year, 40 communities held vigils, remembering missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Several "toolkits" -- resources for women, community members and justice officials -- have been developed. After this year's tour, Ducharme and Still have another idea of a needed resource. Families of missing women need information about what role they play in finding missing women.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

Friday, October 17

Lecture to discuss serial killer

Published Friday October 17th, 2008

By The Daily Gleaner

A public lecture about one of Canada's most prolific serial killers will take place at St. Thomas University next week.

Stevie Cameron, an award-winning investigative journalist and author of The Pickton File, will deliver the lecture Thursday at 7 p.m. in the McCain Hall auditorium.

Cameron has spent the better part of seven years investigating the case of Vancouver's missing women and the British Columbia farmer who was convicted of murder and has been ordered to stand trial for 20 further counts of first-degree murder.

Cameron is working on a second book, The Pig Farm, which she said is a full account of what happened in Vancouver.

Pickton's murder case has been the longest and most expensive in Canadian history and his 14-acre farm is the largest known crime scene in the country.

© 2008 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 15

Media trying to lift publication ban on exhibits filed at Pickton trial

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun

NEW WESTMINSTER - A media lawyer appeared in court Wednesday to try to get a ban on publication lifted on exhibits filed last year at the trial of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton.

But the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams, has imposed a ban on publication on the legal aguments of media lawyer Dan Burnett, the Crown and Pickton's defence lawyers during the hearing this week.

The legal arguments are scheduled to wrap up Friday, when the judge could rule on the media application or reserve judgment to a later date.

Pickton, 59, was convicted last Dec. 9 of six counts of second-degree murder and received a life sentence without parole for at least 25 years.

All his victims were women who lived and worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The 11-month trial heard evidence of how Pickton lured women to his farm in Port Coquitlam, where Pickton regularly slaughtered pigs.

Pickton has filed an appeal of his conviction - and the Crown has filed a cross appeal - that will be heard next March 30. It is set for seven days.

Pickton was originally charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder but the judge decided to sever 20 counts, splitting the charges into two trials. The first trial dealt with a six-count murder indictment.

B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal announced earlier this year that if Pickton's appeal fails and his conviction is upheld, the Crown will not proceed with a second murder trial on the remaining 20 counts, a decision that disappointed victims' families.

Media lawyer Dan Burnett is seeking to lift the ban on publication on a number of trial exhibits, including a videotaped conversation Pickton had with a cell mate after his arrest on Feb. 22, 2002.

The cell mate was actually an undercover police officer posing as a criminal.

© Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun
The Pickton Case

Tuesday, October 7

They were loved and someone cared

Published Wednesday October 8th, 2008

Tobique holds Sisters in Spirit vigil

By Corinne Fitzherbert

By the light of flickering candles, the hundreds of missing aboriginal women in Canada were remembered during a Saturday evening vigil at Tobique First Nation on Oct. 4. The Sisters in Spirit event was part of a nation-wide initiative to draw attention to the plight of missing aboriginal women and the social problems that lead many into a lifestyle that puts them in danger.

Women from Tobique First Nation along with RCMP representatives and Tobique-Mactaquac NDP candidate Alice Finnamore were among those who gathered at the Tobique Wellness Center for the vigil. The event was organized by Debbie Audibert and Tanna Pirie-Wilson and was one of three vigils in the province and 40 across Canada.

Pirie-Wilson explained the Native Women's Association started the Sisters in Spirit initiative to call attention to a "huge problem" in Canada. Over the last 15 years, 511 aboriginal women have gone missing across the country and they join hundreds more from all backgrounds.

"We are gathered here in honour of those women," Pirie-Wilson explained. "This is the third year this has been done (in Canada) but it is the first year for Tobique."

Pirie-Wilson noted women are the spiritual and emotional components of aboriginal life and when they speak, they represent their families and their communities. The absent voices of the missing women causes imbalance in that structure, she said.

"Let's tell Ottawa that these are our sisters," Pirie-Wilson stated, praising the number of people who came out to show their support for the initiative. "When our community comes together and speaks out with one voice we are stronger."

Women from the community started the ceremony by drumming the women's honour song. Mary Mitchell gave a prayer in Maliseet and everyone was invited to light a candle in remembrance of the missing women. Among those 511 names is that of New Brunswick resident Gladys Simon who was reported missing on June 24, 2004. Those attending the vigil voiced concerns for their own friends or relatives who left Tobique and haven't contacted their families for extended periods of time even though they haven't been officially listed as missing.

Debbie Audibert noted the vigil is part of an effort to help the community overcome problems that lead to violence against aboriginal women. Starting on November, meetings will be held twice a month that will use a tool kit to give women new skills and strengths.

"We need to be able to protect ourselves and teach our sisters," Audibert said, noting aboriginal communities traditionally performed that function. "Our culture did that…we watched over each other."

The majority of the missing aboriginal women are from the western part of Canada and many were prostitutes. Audibert noted the problems that lead women to leave their communities and become prostitutes are what need to be tackled. Women in attendance noted poverty is the root cause of a whole range of problems, including the drug addiction that drives many to the streets.

Teamwork and a new approach to policing need to be part of the solution, Audibert said. Pro-active policing and forming partnerships with the RCMP and other organizations in the community are vital.

"We need to work together," she said.

While the missing aboriginal women may just be statistics to some, Audibert noted it is important to remember they were someone's daughter, mother, sister, granddaughter or friend.

"They were loved and someone cared about them," she commented.

The ceremony ended with an ancient Maliseet song to remember the women.

© 2008 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 4

From Airbus to Pickton, Cameron has been there

The Daily Gleaner
Published Saturday October 4th, 2008

Chris Fox

Stevie Cameron is a newspaper journalist turned TV host turned author. She has written two books on the Airbus scandal - On the Take and the Last Amigo - and is credited with helping to break the case open. ore recently she has been living in Vancouver covering the trial of Robert Pickton, the notorious serial killer convicted of killing several sex trade workers in the city's Downtown Eastside. Her first book on the case, The Pickton File, came out last year and she says she'll release another as soon as a second trial planned ends and the publication ban is lifted.

Reporter Chris Fox recently had a chance to catch up with her and her dog, Frances, on the campus of St. Thomas University, where she will be for the next two months as the school's visiting chair in journalism.


Q: What was the last movie you saw and the last concert you went to.

A: The most recent movie I saw was Mama Mia, which I watched at the cottage this summer, and I have to do the most recent TV show I watched because my daughter is the most senior writer on the show, and that is Flashpoint. It's a cop drama and it was the most successful new show on American television this summer.


Q: Tell me about putting together the Airbus story.

A: I knew the Airbus deal was crooked. All of Ottawa was talking about it, but everyone was so scared of the Tories that no libel lawyer would let anyone publish it.

So what happened was I wrote one or two pieces about Schreiber in the Globe and Mail because I knew I was on to him, I knew he was the guy, I just didn't know very much about him.

After that I went into various newspaper databases and suddenly Schreiber's name sprang up as the guy who was Strauss's guy in Alberta and Strauss was one of the most powerful politicians in Germany at the time and the chairman of Airbus, as I found out after looking at him a bit.

Suddenly it all started to come together and I went into the German newspapers and found a reporter in Munich who had written a lot about Schreiber and Strauss and I faxed him looking for information and he wrote me right back saying there was a big story breaking and that the guy that used to work for Schreiber was talking to the media and would talk to me. I couldn't get it into On the Take, it was too late, but I just thought, 'that will be my next book.' I knew I was on to something and I knew I had finally got the tale of the story.


Q: I heard that an anonymous handwritten note first tipped you off. What role did the note play in piecing together the story?

A: I had already heard about this guy Schreiber, but I didn't pay much attention to him until I got that tip and then I started digging into him. It was the first tip I got and it proved to be pretty accurate. It wasn't enough to print, it wasn't enough to do anything with and it was years before I even made it public, but it got things started for me.


Q: Did you ever figure out who it was from?

A: No, I never knew who gave me that tip. You could tell he tried very hard to disguise his handwriting. It could have been a woman, a man, I don't know.


Q: In 2003 the Globe and Mail ran several stories accusing you of acting as a police informant during your coverage of the airbus scandal. How did you feel when you first picked up the paper and saw your face on the cover?

A: I was thunderstruck by it. I didn't know anything about it and then I found out through my lawyers that I was coded as an informant. It was just a horrible ordeal.
I had never hidden the fact that the Mounties interviewed me. They interviewed every reporter that had ever worked on the story, but they had coded me and I couldn't understand why.


Q: You've spent a good chunk of your professional life writing about politicians and white collar criminals, and then in 2002 you decided to cover the Robert Pickton trial. Why?

A: I had had enough of Mulroney and Schreiber and my agent called me and said Connaught wanted me to do a book on the Pickton case and I said 'I'll do it.' I am fascinated by serial killers and I just thought I had to do that book. Plus it was in Vancouver and it was about women in the Downtown Eastside and I had been working with homeless women in Toronto for years and years, so I knew about homelessness and addiction.


Q: What is your impression of Robert Pickton, the person?

A: There are two sides to him. On one hand he wants to be everybody's friend and if you got your car stuck in the ditch he would be the first person to help you, but he liked killing women and he liked prostitutes and he couldn't get anybody any other way. He stank, he was disgusting to look at, he would come into court with this greasy hair that he put butter in that would go rancid. He was gross.


Q: During the trial there was much made of the graphic nature of some of the proceedings. Was there any point when you wondered if you could keep on writing about such a heinous story?

A: No. It was heartbreaking, but it was totally absorbing. It's the biggest criminal case in Canadian history, it's the most expensive, and it's the biggest crime scene in Canadian history, so it is such a rich story.

The hardest part in terms of the horror of it all was the preliminary hearing, which nobody heard about because it was under publication ban. It lasted for seven months and I attended every day of it, and many reporters spoke openly about getting psychiatric help, and that was the worst year for me, but it was still just so interesting.


Q: A lot of people say this particular case shouldn't be covered by the media because of its gruesome nature. What is your response?

A: What if we don't print any of this because this is gross or this is disgusting? Then what do the lives of these women mean? Don't they matter? Shouldn't their stories be told? So they died in an ugly way, it doesn't mean they should become anonymous.


Q: So do you see yourself as an advocate for these women?

A: To an extent I guess. I don't think one of these women wasn't abused. There is a reason these women are on drugs and are on the street and are prostitutes. They are women from every walk of life, every range of family income, but I would say every single one of them was abused either by family members or their boyfriends, and I want that to be known.

Freelance reporter Chris Fox is a journalism student at St. Thomas University. Q&A appears each Saturday.

© 2008 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc. All rights reserved.




Stevie Cameron: Street-side savior of Canada's destitute

Thursday, October 2

A Roomful of Missing Women

An installation and collection of paintings depicting missing and murdered women from Downtown East Vancouver by Betty Kovacic. This was part of The Works visual art festival in Edmonton in late June to early July.

Media asks B.C. Supreme Court to lift Pickton publication ba

Media asks B.C. Supreme court to lift Pickton publication ban


October 3, 2008

VANCOUVER -- B.C. Supreme Court will be asked later this month to lift several publication bans on information that a top police investigator has said would have convinced a jury to convict Robert (Willie) Pickton of first-degree murder.

In a sensational trial that drew international attention, Mr. Pickton was convicted last December of six second-degree murders, indicating the jurors believed he intended to kill the women but the murders were not planned.

Don Adam, the former head of Vancouver's Missing Women Task Force, said after the trial that he felt justice had not been done. He questioned whether jurors would feel betrayed when they finally hear all the evidence gathered by police. "I think there should be an honest dialogue about keeping everything from the jury," Mr. Adam said.

Mr. Justice James Williams of the B.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an application from The Globe and Mail and other media outlets beginning Oct. 14.

Media lawyer Dan Burnett said yesterday in an interview that the court will be asked to lift a publication ban on several voir dires in which Judge Williams ruled on whether evidence was admissible during the trial. The media is also pressing for freedom to publish 90 exhibits, mostly photographs, from the trial as well as the videotape and transcript of Mr. Pickton's statements to an undercover officer and another officer who interrogated him.

The central issue is whether a publication ban continues to be necessary in order to protect Mr. Pickton's right to a fair trial on 20 outstanding murder charges, Mr. Burnett said.

© Copyright 2008 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 1

Lawyers file more than 15,000 pages of documents for Robert Pickton appeal

Neal Hall
Vancouer Sun

Thursday, October 02, 2008

VANCOUVER - More than 15,000 pages of documents have been filed for the appeal of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton.

A case management hearing was held Wednesday in the B.C. Court of Appeal, where lawyers for the Crown and defence discussed how things were progressing.

Vancouver lawyer Gil McKinnon, who is handling the appeal for Pickton, said he expects it should take seven days but asked the court to keep nine days open, beginning March 30 at the Vancouver Law Courts.

About 50 volumes of appeal books have been filed, along with 78 volumes of trial transcripts containing 15,651 pages.

Pickton is appealing his conviction, arguing the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams, made errors in law while instructing the jury and by admitting the evidence of Pickton's statements to police.

The Crown has filed a cross-appeal, arguing the trial judge erred by splitting the 26 first-degree murder charges into two trials. The first trial dealt with a six-count murder indictment.

Pickton, 59, was convicted last Dec. 9 of six counts of second-degree murder and received a life sentence without parole for at least 25 years.

All his victims were women who lived and worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal said this year if Pickton's appeal is unsuccessful and his conviction stands, the Crown will not proceed with a second trial on the remaining 20 counts, a decision that disappointed victims' families.

Media lawyer Dan Burnett is scheduled to appear before the trial judge later this month to try to lift bans on publication on a number of trial exhibits, including a videotaped conversation Pickton had with a cellmate after his arrest on Feb. 22, 2002. The cellmate was an undercover police officer posing as a criminal.

Burnett will be representing a number of media outlets at the hearing, set for Oct. 14-17.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

The Pickton Case