POLITICS

Judge denies Pickton's brother's bid for sexual-assault lawsuit to be postponed

06/17/2015 04:00 EDT | Updated 06/16/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - A woman accusing the brother of serial killer Robert Pickton of threatening to rape and kill her more than two decades ago will soon get the chance to tell her story in court.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross rejected an application from David Pickton that a civil lawsuit filed against him in 2013 be postponed. Ross said she took seriously concerns raised by the woman's social worker about the likely impact another delay would have on her mental health.

"It would be a manifest injustice to adjourn (her) trial for a fourth time," said Jason Gratl, the woman's lawyer.

Pickton applied earlier this month for an adjournment, citing a scheduling conflict for his legal counsel. The application to adjourn was filed in court twelve days before the trial's expected start date next week.

A notice of civil claim filed in November 2013 alleges Pickton sexually assaulted the woman on a construction site in August 1991 before threatening to rape and kill her.

In a sworn affidavit, the woman's social worker wrote that another adjournment risked having a "disastrous" impact on her client's mental health.

"Since she was informed that David Pickton has applied to adjourn her trial for a fourth time she has been inconsolable," read the affidavit. "She feels revictimized by the court system and David Pickton."

That same document indicated the woman had referred to thoughts of suicide, which Ross highlighted in her decision to reject Pickton's request.

Pickton's lawyer, Ian Donaldson, defended his request for an adjournment because of unexpected delays in a criminal case with which he is involved.

"I'm sympathetic to the plaintiff's position but I say I can't be in two places at once," Donaldson told the hearing, adding that he would "be remiss not to point out that the plaintiff is the one who waited over two decades to file the claim.

"When the dates of next week were selected I had no reason to believe that I would continue to be before this court in an ongoing trial that would spill … well into July," he added.

Donaldson countered Gratl's suggestion that the last-minute application could be a deliberate court tactic designed to delay the proceedings. He insisted Pickton had "a sound and valid defence" and was not trying to shirk the justice system.

The seven-day jury trial is set to begin next Monday.

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