Two years after staying an attempted murder charge against Robert Pickton, Crown counsel destroyed its file on a violent altercation at his farm in 1997.
The B.C. missing women inquiry heard today (April 11) that the documents were destroyed despite a Crown policy requiring files on serious cases, such as attempted murder charges, to be archived for 75 years.
“There’s no question that that file should have been archived,” said Randi Connor, a Crown prosecutor that handled the case, during cross-examination from lawyer Cameron Ward.
The file on the Pickton charges was part of 71 boxes of documents that were destroyed in 2000, according to criminal justice branch lawyer Leonard Doust. Further details on why the file was destroyed are expected to be presented to the inquiry soon.
The commission is currently examining why charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault against Pickton were stayed in January 1998. The inquiry heard during Connor’s first day of testimony Tuesday (April 10) that the victim in the case appeared too incoherent from drug use to provide credible evidence.
The victim, who was found near Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm suffering from serious injuries, had also knifed Pickton during the altercation.
Ward asked Connor whether she had notified the victim, known to the inquiry as Ms. Anderson, of her decision not to proceed with a scheduled five-day trial on the charges.
“Why didn’t you speak to her about the fact you were contemplating staying the charge... or have any sort of discussion with her about that?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, my contact with her was only through the mum, and my recollection was the mum was called,” said Connor.
According to Ward, a transcript of an interview with the witness indicates she called Connor at home to express her disapproval when she heard of the decision to stay the charges.
Connor disputed the witness’ account of that phone call, noting that she can’t remember the conversation taking place, and that while the witness referred to Connor’s daughter answering the phone, she didn’t have a daughter.
“With all due respect to Ms. Anderson...I think she is simply mistaken about that conversation,” said Connor.
The witness was scheduled to appear before the inquiry this week, but was too concerned about protecting the privacy of her and her family to testify, commission counsel Art Vertlieb told the inquiry Tuesday.
Pickton was arrested in 2002 and has been convicted in the second-degree murders of six women. He once confessed to an undercover police officer that he had killed 49.
The missing women inquiry was established by the B.C. government to examine the police investigations of the disappearances of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in the years leading up to Pickton’s arrest.