Pickton's chance for parole set at 25 years

Families rejoice; lawyers advise Pickton not to speak at sentencing hearing

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun

December 11, 2007


NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - Serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton was sentenced tonight to life in prison without parole for 25 years for the murder of six women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2001.

The judge's decision was met by loud cheers from the victims families.

"This is the rare case that properly warrants the maximum," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams said, calling Pickton "murderous and repeatedly so."

He added: "There were six separate events [murders] that took place over a period of four years. It necessarily follows that these events occurred serially. In that sense, this case is markedly different from any other case to which I have been referred."

The judge said Pickton had expressed no remorse for such senseless and despicable crimes, which involved dismembering bodies and disposing of remains.

"Mr. Pickton, there is really nothing that I can say to adequately express the revulsion the community feels about these killings."

The Crown urged Williams earlier today to impose the the 25-year maximum sentence for Pickton's crimes because he preyed upon society's most vulnerable women and has shown no remorse. That would effectively make the sentence the same as first-degree murder.

"He preyed on drug-addicted sex trade workers, the most vulnerable people in our society," prosecutor Geoff Baragar said during the sentencing hearing today. "In this case, there is no evidence of remorse."

The jury decided Sunday after 10 days of deliberations that Pickton was guilty of six counts of second-degree murder, not first-degree as charged.

The murder victims were Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, and Andrea Joesbury.

Pickton received a mandatory life sentence for second-degree murder, but the judge had to decide whether to impose a parole ineligibility period of between 10 and 25 years.

During his speech, Baragar also cited a number of cases where post-offence conduct was a factor in determining sentence.

"He engaged in post-offence conduct to hide his crimes... over a period of years."

Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie suggested a range of 15 to 20 years would be appropriate for the parole ineligibility period.

He said Pickton, 58, has no criminal record, no history of violence and has been hard working his entire life.

"There has been a considerable history of kindness to other people," Ritchie said of his client.

The lawyer pointed out the jury who heard the evidence over the last 10 months "was obviously not satisfied the murders were planned and deliberate," so didn't find first-degree murder.

"The jury has spoken," he added.

Ritchie said the issue of when Pickton might be released on parole should be left to parole board officials.

"The chance of him getting out on parole for six murders is so slim... and that ought to be taken into consideration today."

The judge asked Pickton this evening if he wished to say anything before his sentence was imposed.

Pickton leaned forward in his chair, looking like he was going to stand and speak. His lawyer said he would speak on behalf of his client.

"There are things he would like to say," the lawyer said, but pointed out Pickton has accepted legal advice not to say anything because of a pending second trial on another 20 counts of first-degree murder. That proceeding is set for Jan. 17 to fix a trial date.

All 26 women Pickton is charged with killing were on a list of 65 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between 1978 and 2001.

If convicted on all charges, it will be the biggest serial killer case in Canadian history.

Pickton has been in custody since February 2002, when police began a massive forensic search of the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam, where the killer often butchered pigs late at night.

The six-hectare farm is worth more than $7 million and is co-owned by Pickton's brother and sister, who have not attended the trial, which began Jan. 22.

Copyright 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved

Copyright 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved



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

Updated: August 21, 2016