US & Canada

Canadian court releases new details on serial killer

Robert Pickton's farm
Image caption Pickton was convicted of killing six women at his farm outside Vancouver

Fresh testimony has emerged involving a convicted Vancouver serial killer after prosecutors opted not to try him for 20 more murders of which he is accused.

Robert Pickton, jailed for killing six women, was denied a new trial by the Canadian Supreme Court last week.

The trial judge this week lifted a ban on publishing details of a case in 1997 in which Pickton was accused of trying to murder a sex worker at his pig farm.

Prosecutors had believed she was not a credible witness and halted the case.

That attack took place in March 1997. The six Vancouver sex workers for whose murders Pickton was jailed in 2007 were all killed subsequently.

The new details have come out since the publication ban on pretrial evidence was lifted on Wednesday, after British Columbia's attorney general formally stayed the 20 additional murder charges against Pickton.

In a case that has jarred Canadian media accustomed to the gruesome details of the Pickton trial, the newly released testimony reveals how the unnamed woman said at a preliminary hearing that Pickton had picked her up from a Vancouver street.

Pickton promised her 100 Canadian dollars (£62) for sex if she would return with him to his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, about 35 minutes' drive away, the court heard.

Struggle

After sex she went to a bathroom to inject drugs. When she returned, Pickton slapped a handcuff on her left wrist, according to the testimony. A struggle ensued and she was stabbed several times while she managed to slice his throat with a kitchen knife.

The two were treated at the same hospital, and the woman nearly died after losing three litres of blood. The handcuff was still on her wrist; its key was among Pickton's belongings.

Police arrested Pickton and accused him of attempted murder and forcible confinement.

The Globe and Mail reported that after his arrest, Mr Pickton told an undercover police officer that the woman had tried to rob him and slashed him when he resisted.

The case was stayed the following January before it went to trial.

Four years later, investigators found women's butchered and frozen body parts on Pickton's property.

After an 11-month trial, the largest serial killer case in Canadian history, Pickton was found guilty in killings of six woman and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.

He appealed against the verdict, arguing the judge's final instructions to the jury precluded a fair trial.

But last week the Supreme Court court ruled unanimously he had received a fair trial.

He was accused of killing 20 more times, and once bragged to an undercover police officer he had slain 49 people.

But prosecutors this week declined to pursue more charges, sparing the victims' families the ordeal of a public trial.

More on this story