BC judge slaps publication ban on warrants in missing women case

Star Phoenix

March 8, 2002

Robert (willie) Pickton

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) -- A provincial court judge banned publication Friday of three 1997 search warrants involving Robert Pickton, now charged in Vancouver's notorious missing-women case.

The CBC had filed an application to see the warrants and the police information used by a judge to issue them in an attempted-murder charge against Pickton that was later stayed.

Pickton now faces two counts of first-degree murder and the Crown says it plans to use details from the 1997 charges as "similar-fact evidence."

Judge Pedro de Couto ruled both the warrants and police information should be sealed because the intense publicity surrounding the missing-women case could prejudice Pickton's right to a fair trial.

Publication of such information is routinely banned when it comes up in preliminary or bail hearings, the judge said. Both Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, and Crown prosecutor Richard Romano opposed release of the old warrants.

But even if the trial judge rules that evidence inadmissible, de Couto said disclosing it now would be prejudicial to Pickton.

De Couto banned publication of certain parts of his ruling but released some details that he considered.

Pickton was charged with attempted murder after a woman fled his home in the middle of the night of March 23, 1997. Bleeding from several stab wounds, Wendy Lynn Eistetter ran to a neighbour's and pleaded for help.

Pickton was accused of stabbing her repeatedly with a knife, assault with a weapon, unlawful confinement and endangering the life of Eistetter by committing an aggravated assault. The charges were stayed by the Crown in January 1998.

De Couto noted the alleged offences occurred well within the time frame covered by the current police investigation into the disappearances of 50 women from Vancouver's seedy downtown eastside in the last two decades.

The women Pickton is charged with killing both vanished last year.

Through their lawyer, Robert Pickton has denied any involvement in the disappearances. His brother Dave Pickton told a Vancouver newspaper his brother often befriended prostitutes out of kindness.

 Copyright  2002 Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Updated: August 21, 2016