BY NEAL HALL, POSTMEDIA NEWS NOVEMBER 30, 2011 4:40 PM
VANCOUVER — Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard denied Wednesday that he lied during his testimony at a Vancouver inquiry probing the investigation of the disappearances and murders of dozens of women.
Lawyer Darrell Roberts, representing First Nations interests at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, suggested LePard gave "false evidence" to deflect the blame away from Vancouver police and onto the RCMP for the flawed police investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton.
"I have done my very best for the last 10 days and take great offence at being accused of not telling the truth," LePard responded.
Roberts suggested that LePard prepared his report, which reviewed the mistakes made by the Vancouver police and RCMP in the Pickton investigation, on the false premise that Pickton committed no crimes in Vancouver.
And this was intentionally done to take the heat off Vancouver police and put it on the RCMP, Roberts charged.
"I couldn't disagree more," LePard replied.
He said there was no evidence that Pickton used a ruse to kidnap sex trade workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and take them to his farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., to kill them.
Roberts suggested that LePard had considered that Pickton committed the crime of kidnapping by fraud in Vancouver before preparing his report, which was released last year.
"Here you gave false evidence," Roberts again suggested to LePard's denial.
The inquiry is investigating why it took Vancouver police and RCMP until 2002 to catch Pickton when they were receiving detailed tips as far back as 1998.
Pickton, 62, is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women. He initially was charged with killing 20 more but those charges were stayed in 2010.
The serial killer has been linked by DNA to the deaths of 33 women and has boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed at least 16 more.
Lawyer Sean Hern, representing the Vancouver police, objected to Robert's accusations.
"I'm deeply concerned by those kinds of questions," he told the inquiry commissioner.
Hern said LePard was called as an expert witness to give his opinions about policing, but he is not a legal expert.
He said Roberts' questioning of LePard was inappropriate.
Roberts has repeatedly asked LePard about Vancouver police's failure to exercise a search warrant on Pickton's farm in 1998 after receiving tips reporting that he was killing women there.
LePard said it was the legal jurisdiction of the RCMP to investigate the murder allegations because Pickton lived in the jurisdiction of Coquitlam RCMP.
Roberts even drafted a mock search warrant that Vancouver police could have prepared in 1998, based on information known then.
The mock search warrant also contained information about a Downtown Eastside prostitute who was attacked at Pickton's farm in March 1997 but survived.
Roberts said the details from 1997 indicated Pickton was using a fraud — offering women money for sex — in order to lure them to his farm to be killed.
LePard has said that police don't know when Pickton formed his intent to kill, pointing out that 13 women stayed at Pickton's farm for between one and 40 nights and lived.
The RCMP lawyer, Cheryl Tobias, will be the next to cross-examine LePard.
Earlier on Wednesday, inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal interrupted a lawyer's cross-examination to ask how much longer he was going to take.
"We've got timing problems here," Oppal told Jason Gratl, the lawyer for "affected Downtown Eastside individuals," who began his cross-examination on Monday. "The fact is, we've got to get this inquiry moving."
"We have a deadline here. We can't go on forever," he added.
The inquiry began Oct. 11. Oppal initially had a deadline of Dec. 31 to file his report to government, which has granted an extension until the end of April next year.
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