A Langley man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the same woman two times in the span of a week has died in jail just weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial.
Multiple sources have confirmed that the death of 42-year-old William John Bassett Jr. occurred near the end of March while he was being held at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, a high-security remand centre that manages offenders who the court has ordered to remain in custody pending trial.
In response to a Times query, the BC Coroners Service said it was investigating the death of a “male in his early 40s” at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre in March but could not name him because of the Coroners Act and provincial privacy legislation.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
The family of the victim said they were notified by police that the trial, expected to get underway this month (May), would not be proceeding because of Bassett’s death.
The family said they had been advised the trial would take at least a week of court time because of the number of witnesses and amount of evidence.
Bassett, a resident of the Brookswood area of Langley Township, was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count each of kidnapping and unlawful confinement in connection with the May 2014 incidents.
The first charges were laid after Langley RCMP officers responded to a sexual assault where the victim had been confined overnight.
She was able to escape her captor and contact police.
Bassett was arrested at the time, charged, and released with conditions to have no contact with the victim.
A week later the same woman was reported missing to police.
Langley RCMP located her two days later, showing obvious signs of a beating, and saying she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted a second time.
She told police a number of people had taken part in the kidnapping itself as well as the confinement.
Three others were also charged in connection with the second kidnapping and sexual assault.
Court records suggest at least one of the three has since pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful confinement.
Court documents show Bassett, who graduated from a Langley high school, had a lengthy criminal history that included a previous conviction for forcible confinement.
On April 9, 1991, in Youth Court at Surrey, Bassett was convicted of assault causing bodily harm and sentenced to 35 days open custody and probation for 12 months.
On March 1, 1993, in Youth Court at Surrey, B.C., he was convicted of possession of stolen property over $1,000 and sentenced to pay restitution of $1,170.31 and to probation for 12 months.
On Nov. 2, 1995, he was convicted of possession of a narcotic and sentenced to pay a fine of $100.
On June 13, 1997, he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm, the passing of sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for one year.
On Nov. 25, 2005, in Red Deer, Alberta, he was convicted of four offences and sentenced to seven months for forcible confinement, uttering threats, obstructing a police officer, and failing to comply with recognizance.
During a previous provincial court appearance, the court heard Bassett was on a disability pension after being diagnosed with a serious heart condition in 2006.
“His condition will require surgery, but that cannot be done until he is cured of the hepatitis C disease, which he apparently contracted while in custody,” the judge noted.