Crown prosecutor Randi Connor testifying on the decision to drop charges against Robert Pickton in 1998.

Crown prosecutor Randi Connor testifying on the decision to drop charges against Robert Pickton in 1998.

Crown grilled over stay of case against serial killer Pickton

Last-minute interview left no time for addicted witness to clean up

Crown prosecutor Randi Connor said charges of attempted murder against serial killer Robert Pickton had to be dropped in 1998 – giving him four more years to kill before his eventual arrest – because the woman who escaped from him was too high on drugs to testify at trial.

Connor appeared before the Missing Women Inquiry, which is probing why police failed to catch Pickton much sooner and why Crown failed to put him behind bars when they had the chance after the 1997 knife fight.

“She wasn’t able to communicate the evidence and without her I didn’t have a case,” Connor told the inquiry Tuesday when asked about her interview with the heroin-addicted sex trade worker described as Ms. Anderson.

“She was nodding off. She was not able to articulate the evidence. She was in bad shape.”

After conducting the interview, she consulted with a senior prosecutor and the decision was made to stay the charges.

But Connor’s murky recollection of the events cannot be verified because the Crown office later destroyed their file – contrary to a requirement it be archived for 75 years in serious cases. The inquiry has been told it was an administrative error.

Connor was questioned as to why efforts weren’t made to interview Anderson much sooner – instead of just days before the trial was to start on Feb. 2, 1998.

“In an ideal world you want to talk to your witnesses, the vulnerable ones, as soon as possible, but sometimes it doesn’t work out,” she said.

Lawyer Darrell Roberts pressed Connor under cross-examination to admit that she should have realized addicts have “good times and bad times” and that she pulled the plug on the case too soon.

“You applied a one-strike policy against Ms. Anderson, you didn’t give her a second chance,” he said.

Connor admitted she did not seek an adjournment of the trial to allow more time for Anderson to get clean.

Nor did she tell Anderson or her mother the case might be dropped.

Connor said she thought the case could have been reopened within a year if Anderson improved and police knew that was an option.

“I felt she was in the throes of a very serious drug addiction,” Connor said. “I wasn’t in a position to say when, if ever, she was going to be able to testify.”

Connor denied an accusation she considered Anderson a second-class citizen.

She said she couldn’t even negotiate a plea bargain with Pickton’s defence lawyer to a lesser charge because “I didn’t have a witness.”

Connor said she did not recall ever talking to a Port Coquitlam RCMP officer about his investigation of Pickton at that time as a possible suspect in the disappearances of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Unlike dozens of other prostitutes who were killed by Pickton, Anderson got away after nearly dying in the early 1997 struggle.

Pickton had snapped one handcuff on Anderson in his trailer and she reacted by grabbing a knife and fighting back.

A bloodbath ensued, ending with Anderson escaping to the street and both she and Pickton ending up in the same hospital. Staff found the key to the handcuff in Pickton’s pocket.

Commission counsel Art Vertlieb noted the case against Pickton would have been stronger if Anderson – who doctors had to resuscitate – had actually died in hospital.

It would have become a murder case, with no risk to the prosecution around the victim’s ability to testify.

Nineteen more women are believed to have been murdered by Pickton between the stay of charges in 1998 and his arrest in February 2002.

Anderson decided not to testify before the inquiry.

The hearing resumed Monday after a three-week break amid protests from women’s and aboriginal groups that are continuing to boycott the inquiry.

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Vanessa Dueck.
Snapshots of a Chilliwack father from his loving daughter

Father’s Day memories of special moments shared together

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read