Witness in Pickton case alone and ‘living in fear'

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, May 15, 2003

A former employee of accused serial killer Robert Pickton and his older brother David Pickton says he's terrified, in hiding and homeless because the RCMP have refused to provide him with witness protection.

CREDIT: David Clark, The Province

Investigators sift through soil at Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam.

The unemployed truck driver and father of a young son -- who cannot be identified by court order -- claims he has been the target of several attempts to discourage or prevent him from giving evidence if Robert Pickton is committed to stand trial after his preliminary inquiry ends in July.

"I came forward to police to give them information, and they led me to believe that if I did, my family and I would remain safe," said the man, who first started working as a truck driver for Dave Pickton in 1994.

"Now here I am living in fear, without my family, because I don't want them to get hurt -- and the RCMP won't do anything to help me."

Robert "Willy" Pickton, 53, is charged with the first-degree murders of 15 women whose names all appeared on a list of more than 60 women who have gone missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since the late 1970s.

The Pickton brothers' Port Coquitlam farm, where Robert slaughtered pigs and Dave ran demolition and topsoil businesses, is now the focus of Canada's largest serial-killer investigation. Both brothers lived on the farm.

After 50 days of evidence that started in January, Robert Pickton's preliminary inquiry adjourned April 23 until June 30, when it will resume for an estimated final three weeks. Dave Pickton has not been charged with any crime.

The hearing is covered by a sweeping publication ban imposed by Port Coquitlam Provincial Court Judge David Stone, who will decide if Pickton must stand trial. His trial would then be expected to take place within a year.

But the prospective witness said he's afraid he may not live that long.

"Two nights ago, I was camping outside and I looked up to see two men running straight for me, yelling, 'Get him!' " he said yesterday.

He said he jumped on his bike to escape his pursuers, then hid in bushes for nine hours, fearing they'd return.

The man said he and his wife and their three-year-old son initially received protection from members of the RCMP missing women's task force, but the protection was withdrawn after he was evicted from seasonal rental housing and left without informing police.

RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford, who speaks for the task force, said she could not comment on any specific case, but added: "If there is a legitimate risk to an individual, a witness, the RCMP will take steps to protect his safety."

The man said another bid to frighten or harm him occurred when he was subpoenaed to give evidence April 17.

Although he was always flanked by two burly RCMP officers, police told him he was being watched and followed and that death threats had been received.

An officer spent that night in his hotel room, "but then they just abandoned me the next day," the man said.

"The RCMP protection was just a show to impress the media. I'm alone and very scared. This has wrecked my life."

The man, who admits he has had drug problems in the past, said he made up to $50,000 a year as a truck driver but must now apply for welfare.  

© Copyright  2003 The Province

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Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016