Saturday 17 February 2018

War hero charged with sex attacks and murder

Guy Adams in Montreal

HE is one of Canada's top military commanders, boasting a chest full of medals and a glittering CV that had put him in charge of the nation's biggest airbase and seen him pilot official flights for the likes of the Queen and Stephen Harper, his country's prime minister. But behind the starchy facade, prosecutors claim, Colonel Russell Williams was a dangerous sexual predator whose bizarre obsession with collecting women's underwear led him to commit scores of burglaries, two sexual assaults and two grisly murders.

This week, Col Williams (47) appeared in court in Ottawa accused of 86 lurid crimes that have alternately transfixed and appalled Canada since his arrest two months ago. If he pleads guilty -- or is found guilty at trial -- he faces spending the rest of his life behind bars.

The married father of four was detained by police in Belleville, Ontario, in late February, not far from the house where a local woman named Jessica Lloyd (27) had been sexually assaulted and strangled by an intruder a few days earlier.

The prosecution says officers noticed the tyres on his SUV matched a rare pattern left in the snow near the murder scene. When the military veteran failed to properly explain what he'd been doing on the night of Ms Lloyd's death, he was brought in for further questioning.

Soon, detectives were searching the home in suburban Ottawa where Col Williams and his family lived. They turned up 500 sets of underwear, belonging to at least 82 women, together with evidence that prosecutors say links him to a murder in nearby Brighton, and two sexual assaults.

If he does not plead guilty, he is scheduled to return to court for a full trial in June.

Irish Independent

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