Friday, December 20

Serial killer Robert Pickton continues to deny his guilt in series of lawsuits against him


Robert William Pickton, shown here in an undated image from TV, has submitted his defence in a series of lawsuits.

Photograph by: HO, CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER — Serial killer Robert Pickton continues to deny responsibility for the years he spent hunting sex workers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, filing statements of defence in a series of lawsuits against him.

The families of several women whose DNA or remains were found on Pickton's farm launched lawsuits earlier this year targeting Pickton, his brother David, and various levels of government.

Pickton, who was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder and is believed to be responsible for deaths of dozens more, filed statements of defence from Kent Institution, the maximum-security prison near Agassiz, B.C., where he is serving a life sentence.

The documents don't offer any details, but instead use a standard court template to deny liability.

"None of the facts in Part 1 of the notice of civil claim are admitted," says one of the statements of defence, dated Nov. 29 and officially filed with the court this week.

"The defendant opposes the granting of the relief sought in all paragraphs of Part 2 of the notice of civil claim."

Each statement of defence is punctuated by Pickton's signature, with "Robert — William — Pickton" written in cursive and separated with hyphens.

The lawsuits were filed by the children of nine women whose remains or DNA were found on Pickton's property after the serial killer's arrest in February 2002.

Since his conviction, Pickton has repeatedly denied responsibility for killing Downtown Eastside sex workers, offering vague, rambling denials and suggesting someone else was to blame.

In August 2010, shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada denied the final appeal of his murder convictions, Pickton spoke to a CTV reporter from jail and claimed others were responsible.

He made similar claims in a series of letters to The Canadian Press in 2012.

In each instance, Pickton includes cryptic claims that there is more to the story, but he never takes the opportunity to fill in the blanks.

Likewise, he did not use his statement of defence to offer any explanation beyond yet another denial.

A senior officer from Ontario's Peel Regional Police visited Pickton at Kent in 2011 as she prepared a report for a public inquiry into the case. Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans told the inquiry that Pickton maintained his innocence, but she didn't reveal anything else about their conversation.

A lawyer for the inquiry said he was considering calling Pickton as a witness, but concluded the killer's denials would add nothing to the hearings.

Jason Gratl, the lawyer representing the families, said he wants the court to force Pickton to turn over his assets — namely, property he still owns — to the victims' families.

Gratl said he's prepared to call Pickton as a witness if the case proceeds to trial. Currently, Pickton is not represented by a lawyer.

"If the government settles, we'll carry on against Pickton," said Gratl.

"We'll get damages from him. We're trying to transfer all of his assets our clients."

Gratl has argued the lawsuits wouldn't have been necessary if the governments responsible for the police forces were prepared to seriously talk about financial settlements. The City of Vancouver is acting on behalf of Vancouver police, while the B.C. government and the federal government are acting on behalf of RCMP.

The lawsuits allege police failed Downtown Eastside sex workers and contributed to the women's deaths by botching the investigations into Pickton.

The Vancouver police and the RCMP, which have each offered public apologies for failing to catch Pickton, filed statements of defence in October, arguing the forces acted reasonably when they received reports of missing sex workers.

While Pickton was convicted of killing six women, the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his property in Port Coquitlam, east of Vancouver.

He once boasted to an undercover police officer that he killed 49 women.

© Copyright (c)

Monday, December 16

Opinion: Missing women’s inquiry produced important recommendations

Darrell Roberts: Unfortunate that lawyer continues to call it a failure because his theory was rejected


The Missing Women Inquiry had many different aspects, including an opportunity for the families to tell their stories, an examination of the lives of sex workers in the Downtown Eastside and their relationships with police and other service providers, a study of the policies that affect them, and a detailed examination of protocols for best practices in missing persons investigations.


On Nov. 29, Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew published an article entitled Missing Women Inquiry Slammed, with the subheading No scrutiny of police: Lawyer Darrell Roberts says review was ‘a failure of major proportions.’

The article reported on allegations that lawyer Darrell W. Roberts recently levelled against the Missing Women Inquiry, including statements that the inquiry was “a failure of major proportions,” “a huge underachievement,” and that the evidence of Deputy Chief Constable LePard in cross-examination was “only helpful to show his incompetence” These allegations are misguided and untrue.

Roberts had the privilege of acting as counsel on behalf of the mother of one of the missing women. His singular focus in the inquiry was on a theory he had constructed that if only the VPD investigators had pursued an investigation of “kidnapping by fraud,” the investigation would have been more successful. Roberts’ called his theory the “elephant in the room.” He cross-examined almost every police witness on the subject and made final submissions urging the commissioner to adopt his analysis.

None of the parties, witnesses or experts agreed with Roberts’ theory. The witnesses largely saw the kidnapping by fraud theory as “interesting,” but with little practical value. In his report, while critical of many aspects of the VPD’s investigation into the missing women, the commissioner was of the same view.

Despite Roberts’ theory having little traction in the proceedings, a year after the commissioner’s report was issued, he is still pursuing it and is disparaging those who disagreed with him. That Roberts has made these statements is unfortunate, but it is particularly disappointing that Mulgrew provided a platform for such views in the absence of any balanced analysis.

With respect to Deputy Chief LePard’s evidence, for example, he might have noted the commissioner’s conclusion that the “LePard Report” was an “unprecedented” analysis of great assistance to the inquiry, the commissioner’s positive comments regarding the quality of Deputy Chief LePard’s 14 days of testimony, or that during the Inquiry, Roberts was reproached by the commissioner for making unfounded allegations against LePard.

The inquiry was a substantial undertaking and an important process for the participants and the public.

The assertion that there was “no scrutiny of the police” is simply not true — 43 police witnesses were cross-examined, tens of thousands of investigative documents were reviewed and two volumes of the commissioner’s report are devoted to a detailed critique of the VPD and RCMP investigations.

Importantly, the inquiry had many different aspects, including an opportunity for the families to tell their stories, an examination of the lives of sex workers in the Downtown Eastside and their relationships with police and other service providers, a study of the policies that affect them, and a detailed examination of protocols for best practices in missing persons investigations.

Thus, leaving aside whether Roberts’ theory had any merit at all, it was only one issue in the inquiry; it does a profound disservice to the Inquiry and everyone involved for Roberts to call it a failure because the witnesses, other counsel and Commissioner did not agree with him.

The inquiry produced important recommendations which the VPD has implemented. There are many other important recommendations to be acted upon and more work to be done to improve the safety and welfare of sex workers in the Downtown Eastside.

The inquiry’s legacy will not be written by disappointed lawyers, but by the strength of our collective resolve to improve the lives of the vulnerable women in the Downtown Eastside. The VPD is committed to that goal.

Inspector Mario Giardini is in charge of the Diversity & Aboriginal Policing Section of the Vancouver Police Department.

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