June 22nd, 2024

Killer Robert Pickton in life-threatening condition after Quebec prison attack

By The Canadian Press on May 21, 2024.

An artist's sketch Robert Pickton taking notes during the second day of his trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C., Tuesday January 31, 2006. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jane Wolsack

MONTREAL – Correctional Service Canada has confirmed that B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton was the inmate injured in a “major assault” Sunday at a Quebec prison.

Quebec provincial police said Tuesday that 74-year-old Pickton was taken to hospital with injuries that were considered life-threatening.

Police spokesman Hugues Beaulieu added that a 51-year-old suspect was in custody.

Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2007, with the maximum parole ineligibility period of 25 years, after being charged with the murders of 26 women.

The remains or DNA of 33 women, many who were taken from the Downtown Eastside, were found on Pickton’s pig farm in Port Coquitlam, and he once bragged to an undercover police officer that he killed a total of 49.

Pickton’s confirmed victims were Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

At the time of Pickton’s sentencing, B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams said it was a “rare case that properly warrants the maximum period of parole ineligibility available to the court.”

The correctional service first announced on Monday that an inmate had been sent to hospital after a serious assault at the maximum security Port-Cartier Institution, about 480 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

It said Tuesday the assault did not involve any of its staff.

Police began searching the Pickton farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam more than 22 years ago in what would be a years-long investigation into the disappearances of dozens of women, many of them from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver police were criticized for not taking the cases seriously because many of the missing were sex workers or drug users.

Pickton became eligible for day parole in February, which sparked outrage from advocates, politicians and victims’ family members who criticized Canada’s justice system, saying he should never be released from prison.

Four years ago, the RCMP applied to dispose of evidence found at a Ruskin, B.C., property linked to Pickton and being held at RCMP warehouses.

Items include pieces of clothing, shoes, and hair pins – including one with hair still in it – as well as more daunting pieces of evidence, such as a sex toy and a rusty bolt-action rifle.

The RCMP’s application argued that the items were taking up substantial space and their storage continues to run up costs. It said the evidence in question will not affect future prosecution.

In an email Tuesday, RCMP Staff Sgt. Kris Clark confirmed the application remains before the courts and the process is ongoing.

A group of families, lawyers and advocates sent a letter to the federal public safety ministry in December calling for a halt to the disposal plan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

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