Serial killer fed butchered victims to pigs, court told
Canadian farmer who murdered six prostitutes loses appeal bid
CANADA's top court yesterday upheld six murder convictions of a pig farmer who butchered women and fed them to pigs in what police have referred to as the country's worst serial killer case.
The Supreme Court was unanimous in ruling Robert Pickton's right to a fair trial was not affected by the trial judge's final instructions to the jury.
At the end of an 11-month trial, Pickton (60) was convicted of murdering six prostitutes in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years for six counts of second-degree murder.
The Vancouver pig farmer appealed his conviction, saying the judge gave improper instructions to the jury when they asked, on their sixth day of deliberations, whether they could find Pickton guilty if they inferred he did not act alone. The judge said if they found Pickton "was otherwise an active participant" in the killings, they could find him guilty.
Pickton's defence argued the judge gave the jury an avenue to convict their client without giving them a chance to defend him properly as the prosecution's case rested on Pickton being the only one responsible for the crimes.
In her written decision, Justice Louise Charron said that the judge's instructions were proper. "There is nothing wrong with the trial judge and counsel's narrowing the issues for the jury by focusing on what is actually and realistically at issue in the case, provided that the jury is given the necessary instructions to arrive at a just and proper verdict," she wrote.
Yesterday's decision comes more than 10 years after a series of newspaper stories began to link the disappearances of women from the city's darkest corners. Pickton was arrested in February 2002 by police investigating the disappearances.
Pickton is also charged in another 20 deaths that haven't gone to trial. Those 20 charges were severed from the original trial because the judge said they included materially different evidence from the other six counts. If the Supreme Court had granted Pickton a new trial, the prosecution said they would try him for the 20 remaining charges.
Pickton and his brother used to throw parties at the hog farm in a barn they dubbed 'Piggy's Palace'. Investigators have said they were drunken parties with prostitutes and plenty of drugs. Pickton's brother has not been charged in the case.
Pickton's suburban farm in Port Coquitlam became the biggest crime scene in Canadian history. Hundreds of investigators, including anthropologists, spent months combing through soil and buildings at the farm where they found human remains.