Tip­ster may have put lives at risk

Se­nior Moun­tie vague on im­pli­ca­tions

The Province - - News - BY SUZANNE FOURNIER THE PROV­INCE sfournier@the­p­rovince.com

An RCMP of­fi­cer who paid a “so­cial visit” alone to Robert Pick­ton in 2001 tipped the pig farmer that two in­for­mants had ac­cused Pick­ton of “killing peo­ple and do­ing all sorts of hor­ri­ble things.”

But RCMP Supt. Bob Wil­liams re­fused to say on the stand at the Miss­ing Women In­quiry Thurs­day if nam­ing those in­for­mants put their lives at risk or un­der­mined what was still an ac­tive se­rial-mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Wil­liams in­ter­viewed the of­fi­cer, Cpl. Frank Hen­ley, for his 2002 re­port on whether the Moun­ties could be li­able for civil law­suit com­pen­sa­tion to the fam­i­lies of women mur­dered by Pick­ton.

“Snitches are not wel­come in the crim­i­nal un­der­world. In fact, they are prob­a­bly of­ten killed?” de­manded lawyer Ja­son Gratl, a lawyer act­ing for Down­town East­side abo­rig­i­nal and women’s groups.

Pressed by Gratl to say if re­veal­ing sources was a “breach of dis­ci­pline . . . or a fir­ing of­fence,” Wil­liams, the first se­nior Moun­tie to take the stand, protested, “that’s go­ing pretty far.”

Wil­liams tes­ti­fied that one of Hen­ley’s rea­sons for his “visit” to Pick­ton may have been that the Moun­tie might have been cu­ri­ous, “try­ing to get a han­dle on what makes him [Pick­ton] tick, that sort of thing.”

Wil­liams noted Hen­ley also vis­ited Pick­ton “on his mis­taken be­lief that the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion [into Pick­ton as a se­rial killer] had shut down.”

Aside from cu­rios­ity, Wil­liams was at a loss to ac­count for Hen­ley, protest­ing “it would be bet­ter if he ex­plained his rea­sons” to the in­quiry.

Hen­ley gave Pick­ton the names of in­for­mants Ross Cald­well and Lynn Ellingsen, whose eye­wit­ness ev­i­dence later helped con­vict Pick­ton.

Pick­ton was at the time of Hen­ley’s visit a key fo­cus of the joint Rcmp-vancouver po­lice Miss­ing Women Task Force.

Asked if Hen­ley’s per­cep­tion was “odd,” Wil­liams shot back, “There’s lots of odd­i­ties in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Wil­liams, a 44-year vet­eran moun­tie, said he as a leader would not have con­doned the visit by Hen­ley.

Sev­eral lawyers at the in­quiry, as well as vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, are push­ing for the in­quiry to call front line in­ves­ti­ga­tors, in­stead of “arm­chair ex­perts” or top of­fi­cers like Wil­liams and Vancouver Po­lice Depart­ment Deputy Chief Doug Lepard.

Next Mon­day, how­ever, the in­quiry will hear from an­other “re­view” wit­ness, Peel, Ont., Re­gion Deputy Chief Jen­nifer Evans, who last year con­ducted an ex­haus­tive re­view of the Pick­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tion for the in­quiry.



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