Victims’ families rejoice as judge orders killer to serve maximum term
rafe arnott/metro vancouver
« It’s been a grand day. It gives me hope in the justice system.
The family members of Robert Pickton’s victims erupted in a raucous cheer last night as Justice James Williams handed the 58-year-old serial killer the maximum sentence available to him under the law.
Pickton will serve 25 years before he can apply for parole for six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. It is the same term that Pickton would have served if he had been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Defence counsel Peter Ritchie had asked that Pickton be eligible for parole in 15 to 20 years. But Williams agreed with the Crown.
"This case is in a category of its own," the judge said.
Pickton, a former pig farmer from Port Coquitlam, was "murderous and repeatedly so," Williams said. The crimes were "senseless and despicable." There was nothing, he added, that could adequately express his revulsion.
The victims, said Williams, were among the most vulnerable members of the community – women who were selling their bodies to feed ugly addiction problems.
With his sentence, the main courtroom and a secondary overflow room erupted with cheers from the families of Pickton’s victims and alleged victims.
Afterwards, a handful of family walked outside the courthouse wearing white T-shirts that read: Count 1=Guilty, Count 2=Guilty, and so on, for each of the six counts. Family members, many with tears in their eyes, hugged each other and cheered.
"It’s been a grand day," said a jubilant Rick Frey, father of victim Marnie Frey. "It gives me hope in the justice system."
Earlier in the day, however, Rick Frey was reduced to tears as he forced himself to read a victim impact statement about how his daughter disappeared on her birthday.
"We were waiting for her to call when she received her presents. The call never came."
Pickton is still charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of 20 additional women.