|Robert William Pickton. (File Photo)
VANCOUVER - The sex-trade worker who survived an attack by serial killer Robert Pickton in 1997 will not testify after all, wishing to put the horrific ordeal behind her, Crown council informed the Missing Women Inquiry on Tuesday.
Instead, the inquiry heard from the Crown prosecutor who stayed the attempted-murder charges against Pickton, believing his drug-addicted stabbing victim wouldn’t make a credible witness.
“It’s clear she has turned her life around,” lawyer Art Vertlieb said of Pickton’s victim known. The woman, known only as Ms. Anderson because of a publication ban, is concerned with privacy now that she has a family. “There is no doubt she is still very traumatized by these events.
“She wishes very much to put this behind her ... We respect that decision.”
Vertlieb said it would be enough for Crown counsel to hear from Richard Romano and Randi Connor, the prosecutors who handled the case.
But Cameron Ward, the lawyer for the families of 25 missing and murdered women said Crown evidence alone wasn’t enough to properly examine Crown prosecutor Randi Connor’s decision to drop the charges against Pickton in 1998.
Ward said the matter was crucial because Pickton possibly went on to kill as many as 20 more women before his 2002 arrest. Ward consequently asked for more witnesses, including Anderson’s mother.
Romano had approved charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and unlawful confinement against Pickton. However, Connor, who took over the case in October 1997, eventually dismissed them, after a failed interview with Anderson, who appeared to be drugged up.
“I recall she was nodding off. I recall she was not able to articulate the evidence,” Connor said, adding file notes indicated the woman had a long history of drug abuse. “I could not conduct a proper interview with her. I could not get the details from her, and I just didn’t get anywhere with her.”
“The substantial likelihood of a conviction no longer existed,” she concluded.
Connor acknowledged she hadn’t tried to help Anderson become a better witness by offering drug rehab solutions, nor asked her whether she was using more as a result of the attack.
But a previous witness at the inquiry — Det. Lori Shenher — had testified she’d also interviewed Ms. Anderson, and had found her credible.
Meanwhile, 15 groups have boycotted the second phase of the inquiry — the policy forums or study commission — citing concerns about discrimination and the conduct of the commission to date.