tribute to the missing women

Grand chief demands end to Pickton impasse

Ed John urges attorney-general to provide defence funds in slain-women case

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

Thursday, November 07, 2002

First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John plans to write Attorney-General Geoff Plant today demanding an end to the funding impasse in the Robert Pickton case.

John said he will urge the provincial government to provide sufficient defence funding to get the case against Pickton moving through the courts.

"In this case, the families deserve action," John said in an interview Wednesday. "The sooner this gets resolved, the better."

Pickton is charged with killing 15 women among 63 missing from the Downtown Eastside.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is among the missing women, said he talked with John on Wednesday about the funding dispute, which has the potential to delay Pickton's preliminary hearing for a second time.

"The families are getting very anxious and nervous. If it is a matter of funding, get it resolved. We are looking on. We are concerned'," Crey said.

"We are concerned about all the missing women but a good number of them -- about half --are aboriginal and this concerns and troubles us."

Crey said all the legal wrangling has created much uncertainty for some of the family members.

"British Columbians are looking on, the families are looking on and it looks like there is just this disgraceful little skirmish on the side that could derail this whole thing completely," Crey said. "That's what is scaring me and that has what has been scaring me all along."

Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, continued to negotiate with lawyers for the B.C. government behind closed doors Wednesday about a funding arrangement.

A hearing before B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm, with Pickton appearing through a video link, was adjourned until today.

On Friday, Dohm will also consider a new defence application to delay next week's preliminary hearing even if a funding arrangement is reached.

Earlier this week, Port Coquitlam provincial court Judge David Stone agreed to adjourn the Nov. 4 preliminary hearing, but only until Nov. 12 so that the funding impasse could be resolved. Stone also said no further delays will be granted.

Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie said Wednesday the new defence application would mean a review of Stone's decision not to delay the preliminary hearing again.

Ritchie said outside court Wednesday that he expects the money issue to be resolved this week "one way or another."

Pickton has been refused legal aid because of his interest in two large properties, but has applied for government funding under what is called a Rowbotham application, which is reserved for people who do not normally qualify for legal aid.

The unusual hearing in Supreme Court this week has led to lawyers' testimony about the stress of notorious murder cases and what constitutes fair compensation.

Outside court Wednesday, lawyer Ravi Hira echoed some of that testimony, saying Ritchie is entitled to the money he was requested and that the integrity of the judicial system is at stake.

"This is not about greedy lawyers. My plumber makes $100 an hour. It is not a situation where Mr. Ritchie's claims or demands are unreasonable."

 Copyright  2002 Vancouver Sun

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Updated: August 21, 2016