Ex-Pickton friend feisty during cross-examination
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - A former friend of Robert Pickton aggressively defended himself Tuesday from a lawyer's suggestions that he's a liar, a day after he gave a chilling account of Pickton describing how he killed women.
Andrew Bellwood was combative as he sparred repeatedly with defence lawyer Adrian Brooks, a contrast with previous Crown witnesses who have demonstrated porous memories, admitted to lies and had a plethora of inconsistencies pointed out under their cross-examinations.
Brooks began his cross-examination by walking Bellwood through his own criminal record and statements he made to probation officers and provincial court judges eight years ago.
Brooks suggested Bellwood lied to the judge.
But Bellwood refused to concede his statements were lies, saying instead that his definition or description of certain statements simply differed from how Brooks interpreted them.
Bellwood said he never lied in any court.
Bellwood told a hushed courtroom Monday of a conversation with Pickton. He said he and Pickton were watching television in Pickton's trailer in March 1999 when Pickton described how he killed prostitutes by having sex with them from behind, handcuffing them and strangling them before taking them to his slaughterhouse.
There they were bled, gutted and fed to the pigs, Bellwood said Pickton told him.
He told court that as Pickton talked, he acted out some of the gestures, such as making a stroking motion as if he were caressing a woman's hair.
Pickton is charged with the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe and Andrea Joesbury. He will face a further 20 murder charges at a later date.
Some of the Crown's previous key witnesses, including Pat Casanova, Scott Chubb and Lynn Ellingsen, have struggled under questioning by Pickton's lawyers.
Defence lawyers have taken them through statements they made to police after Pickton's arrest in February 2002, as well as other statements to police and at the 2003 preliminary hearing.
The statements sometimes are inconsistent, leading them to admit they were lying or couldn't recall making the statement.
Casanova and Ellingsen were arrested in connection with the missing women's investigation that led to charges against Pickton. They were never charged.
But Bellwood offered explanations for inconsistencies suggested by Brooks.
On Tuesday, Bellwood said information contained in court documents were incorrect and suggested transcripts of statements connected to the entire Pickton proceedings are often rife with inaccuracies and typing errors.
Bellwood prompted laughter in the courtroom during one exchange with Brooks over the wording of a criminal charge.
Bellwood turned questioner and asked Brooks if the particular offence was "on'' a certain day or "on or about'' a certain day, as was written on the information.
"Since we're trying to be so accurate here, was it on or on or about?'' asked Bellwood.
"You tell me,'' said Brooks.
"It was on or about,'' said Bellwood, prompting laughter and smiles from several jurors.
Bellwood, 37, has testified to having been a crack cocaine addict, going on "binges,'' and having had relapses since 1999.
He now works in the oil industry in Alberta and manages a motel.
Brooks asked Bellwood about a visit he had in Alberta on Nov. 2, 2002 from an RCMP officer connected to the missing women's joint task force. The visit came only a few weeks before the start of the Pickton preliminary hearing in which Bellwood testified.
The officer, Brooks suggested, talked to him about some outstanding arrest warrants related to an incident in 1998 in Nanaimo involving the theft of a truck, possession of stolen property and fraud.
Brooks suggested some of the charges were stayed while Bellwood said the counts involving the truck theft were "news to me.''
Later, he was asked again about the visit and Brooks told him that two charges were stayed on April 3, 2002 -- just days before Bellwood's testimony at the preliminary.
"I think they stayed two charges,'' said Bellwood.