Sunday, November 13, 2011

Basi's impared charge held over

My oh my, BC Mary is a wealth of information. She quotes a Times Colonist article about how the shortage of judges has resulted in Impaired cases tossed due to clogged courts. This is another reason why Stephen Harper's lopsided crime bill is preventing us from addressing violent crime.

... In 2005, the provincial court had 143 judges. The current provincial court judge count is 127. Victoria provincial court used to have 13 to 14 full-time judges. It now has the equivalent of 91⁄2 judges. The lack of court resources also led to another impaired driving case being adjourned twice this week.

Aneal Basi, an accused in the B.C. Rail matter, was stopped for impaired driving on Nov. 29, 2008. His first court appearance was on Jan. 15, 2009. The defence requested adjournments of the first two trial dates — March 10 and Sept. 9, 2010 — because the B.C. Rail matter was before the courts.

After the charges against Basi in the B.C. Rail matter were stayed, a new trial was set for July 20, this year, but the trial could not proceed because of an issue over the disclosure of documents.

The case was adjourned until Thursday, but two other cases were on the list for trial in that courtroom. The Crown chose to proceed with a two-day sexual assault trial because expert witnesses from Vancouver were waiting to testify. The Basi case was adjourned until Friday, when it was adjourned again due to lack of court time and resources. A new date is to be set Nov. 15.

"There's cause for concern that if the matter is not set for trial quickly, there's a real possibility the charge will be stayed for overly long delay," said Crown prosecutor Nils Jensen.

As for the RCMP's involvement in the Pickton case, Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard testified that VPD investigators were never told that the Mounties had interviewed Robert Pickton in 2000. VPD investigators also weren’t told about what the Mounties learned during their questioning of Pickton, he said. “It was obviously of great interest to the VPD and it was inexplicably not shared with the VPD,” LePard said. He also said VPD investigators also were not informed that the Pickton interview was going to happen.

At the time, Coquitlam RCMP had jurisdiction to investigate Pickton because of an active investigation stemming from a 1997 attack on a prostitute, LePard said. The woman died in hospital but was revived. Pickton was charged with attempted murder and unlawful confinement but the charges were dropped by the Crown in 1998.

LePard testified that after the 1997 attack by Pickton, the RCMP seized his clothing, which was kept in a storage locker and was not tested for DNA until 2004 — two years after Pickton’s arrest for murder. Police then learned that the DNA of two missing women — Cara Ellis and Andrea Borhaven — was also found on Pickton’s jacket and boots.

Vancouver police had received two tips in July and August 1998 that Pickton was responsible for the death of one and maybe all of the women who were going missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. LePard recalled that in September 1999, an RCMP officer had attempted to call Pickton to arrange an interview but reached Pickton’s brother, Dave Pickton, who suggested they were really busy with work.

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