Jan. 15, 2003. 05:05 PM
This artist's drawing of alleged serial killer Robert Pickton was done Jan. 11, 2002, in court at Port Coquitlam, B.C., during an appearance to complete details for his preliminary hearing. He is charged with 15 murders of missing Vancouver women, dating back to 1996.
Flash: The missing women  
Lawyer wants reporters banned (Jan. 15)  
Mystery to lift (Jan. 13)  
Shedding some light on 'Willy' (Jan. 10)  
Pickton faces four more charges (Oct. 2)  
Another missing woman's DNA found (Sept. 17)  
List of missing women grows (Mar. 29)  
Investigation could last year: police (Mar. 21)  
B.C. watchdog won't probe case (Mar. 19)  

Judge warns media covering Pickton hearing
Reporters 'put on notice' over publication ban violations


PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) The judge in the Robert Pickton serial-murder case issued a stern warning to the media today about violating a ban on publishing evidence disclosed in the preliminary hearing.

Provincial court Judge David Stone said members of the media who break the ban during Pickton's preliminary hearing could be barred from the courtroom and face two years in jail if convicted.

He warned reporters they must guard themselves accordingly.

"I'm not excluding anybody from the courtroom but the parties have been put on notice," said Stone. "If this doesn't sink in, if these problems persist, then we'll start restricting access."

The judge's order, posted on the courtroom door, spelled out the terms of the ban, "including any submissions, representations or rulings respecting evidence or the nature of the evidence taken at the preliminary hearing of Robert William Pickton.

"This ban extends to any publication in any newspaper, on the Internet or broadcast by any means."

U.S. media outlets had posted stories concerning the evidence on their Web sites.

Those disobeying the order would be guilty of an indictable offence under the Criminal Code and liable to imprisonment for no more than two years, the order stated.

However, Stone appeared to stop short of indicating journalists would be imprisoned for the next transgression.

"Any further reporting (of evidence) will be dealt with by the exclusion of those individuals from the courtroom," he said.

Stone addressed the warning to all media but singled out two reporters from the Seattle Times, who were not in court today, and Jeremy Hainsworth, a Canadian journalist covering the hearing for The Associated Press. The judge put him on notice.

No lawyers made submissions at this morning's hearing.

The controversy over media coverage resulted in the preliminary hearing being put on hold Tuesday, the second day of proceedings.

Pickton is accused of killing 15 of the more than 60 women who have disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years.

Defence and Crown lawyers alleged Tuesday that both Canadian and foreign media outlets had breached the wide-ranging ban on publishing evidence.

Both sides worry public disclosure of the evidence against Pickton could make it difficult to assemble an unbiased jury in the long, complex murder case.

The preliminary hearing will take months, followed by an equally long trial.

Stone said Tuesday he had the option of prohibiting U.S. media from the courtroom if they did not "live up to the spirit of the ban."

Pickton, 53, has been in custody since last February, when he was charged with two murder counts in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson.

A huge police investigative team has been painstakingly searching Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm since that arrest.

Since his arrest, Pickton has also been charged with the murders of Diane Rock, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Georgina Papin, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.

The 15 were among 61 women from the Downtown Eastside - mostly drug-addicted prostitutes - who disappeared from the poverty-stricken neighbourhood.

The murder counts against Pickton so far are four more than the number admitted to by Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson.

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Updated: August 21, 2016