POLITICS

Woman assaulted by David Pickton broke down after his brother's murder arrest

06/25/2015 08:34 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - A woman sexually assaulted by David Pickton testified she had a mental breakdown after learning the man's family farm and his brother were at the centre of a serial-murder investigation.

The woman is suing David Pickton for compensation for the sex assault he was convicted of in 1992 and also for unproven threats of rape and murder.

Under cross-examination Wednesday at the B.C. Supreme Court civil trial, Pickton's lawyer questioned the woman about her history of psychiatric disorders.

Ian Donaldson asked the woman about her hospitalization shortly after Robert Pickton was arrested and charged with murdering women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"There is no mention of the name Pickton in any medical records of yours until March of 2002?"

The woman disagreed, though added any lack of reference to death threats was perhaps because prior to the farm investigation doctors chalked them up to her imagination.

"I told everyone about getting chopped up, and the job, and the bikers, and everything," she replied.

She previously told the jury that David Pickton's employee warned she would be cut into pieces if she didn't leave town after Pickton groped her on the construction site where they worked. Motorcycle gang members also staked out her house, court heard.

The Canadian Press does not name victims of sexual assault.

The woman filed the civil lawsuit, seeking damages for psychological harm, financial losses from lost work and punitive compensation over the 24 years since David Pickton was convicted of the sex assault.

Under questioning, she estimated she's had regular dealings with psychiatrists for nearly 30 years.

She testified that her mental health problems were freshly triggered when she saw David Pickton's face on TV in 2002, prompting her to throw up, bleach her entire house and then go to the hospital.

She said she knew nothing at the time about David's brother, Robert, or the pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., that was ultimately excavated to reveal the DNA and remains of 33 women.

Robert Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder. His brother has never been accused or charged in relation to the crimes.

But the woman testified that during the months when the facts about the case were murky, she saw multiple news reports featuring photographs of both brothers and the farm.

She testified that she believed the man who issued the death threat and who sexually assaulted her was accused of the serial murders.

"I was in trouble now, because I'm alive and I know what happened," she told the jury, adding to previous testimony that she was racked with guilt for not pushing harder to make the threats public earlier.

"I believed David Pickton had chopped up people and put them in his yard. I believed they were women who weren't as lucky as me."

She agreed under cross-examination that she occasionally binge-drank and used cocaine to cope with emotional issues, and once she became sober she suffered postpartum depression after her son's birth. She also confirmed being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the mid-1980s.

At one point, Donaldson stepped back from the woman after she asserted his close proximity triggered post-traumatic stress disorder.

She testily refuted the lawyer's suggestion that police interview transcripts failed to contain the alleged threats because they never happened.

She also denied filing the November 2013 suit solely for money after learning the children of Robert Pickton's victims are seeking their own compensation. David Pickton is a defendant in that suit because he was a part owner of the farm, court heard.

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