NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - The Robert Pickton case has caused "horrendous'' damage to Andrew Bellwood's life and the Crown witness insists he has no reason to lie about his crucial testimony.
Bellwood unleashed an angry and emotional diatribe while under cross-examination Thursday, telling defence lawyer Adrian Brooks the case has taken a huge toll on him and his family.
"I have nothing to gain to sit here and lie, nothing except heartache and more despair in my life.''
Brooks spent most of the week grilling Bellwood, trying to undermine his credibility and Bellwood's assertion that Pickton once told him how he murdered and butchered prostitutes.
In his cross-examination, Brooks pointed to an earlier statement Bellwood gave to police in 2002 in which Bellwood said another woman, Lynn Ellingsen, was there when Pickton detailed his techniques and acted some of them out.
Bellwood said he was mistaken then and that only he and Pickton were in the room.
He said he made the mistake before he realized how crucial his evidence would become.
"I later corrected myself,'' he said.
He explained he had gotten his macabre chat with Pickton alone confused with another conversation he'd had with Pickton and Ellingsen in which the pair teased him about his unwillingness to hire a prostitute.
"Is Lynn Ellingsen there or not?'' Brooks asked.
"She is not,'' replied Bellwood.
Brooks berated him for trying to be precise and yet making a mistake so crucial.
"This (February 2002) statement is my first statement and the one I rushed through. I thought this (February 2002) interview was the end of it. I didn't think I had enough to offer in this case today to be sitting here today.''
The self-admitted former cocaine addict who still has occasional relapses then began an emotional outburst directed at Brooks, who stood across the courtroom.
"I most certainly wouldn't be sitting here today after five and a half years and destroying my family's life . . . my kids crying at home right now over all the bad publicity, to sit here now and not tell the truth.''
He said the "damages that I suffer from this case are horrendous and they will continue even after you have done with me.''
Earlier this week, Brooks noted that Bellwood had been questioned by Edmonton police in connection with an investigation into sex-trade workers missing from the Edmonton area.
The Edmonton probe is known as Project Kare.
Bellwood has told court he was angry that he was being interrogated, believing that he had been ensnared by Edmonton police only because of his cooperation in the Pickton case.
Brooks noted Bellwood was questioned about Margaret Findlay, who was found dead in Edson, Alta.
Bellwood agreed, saying he recalled her name but had never met her.
Brooks suggested Bellwood had been assured by police investigating the Vancouver missing women case -- known as Project Evenhanded -- that if he cooperated in the Pickton probe, he would be left alone by Edmonton police.
"I want to get your understanding of what Project Evenhanded was doing on your behalf,'' Brooks said.
"They were telling you, `Look, it's going to be OK, Andrew. You just have to talk with them and everything will be fine.'''
Bellwood said police told him if he was not involved in any crimes in Alberta, he had nothing to worry about.
"If I suggest to you in fact there were tips coming in about you and Project Kare right in to 2005, do you have an explanation?'' pressed Brooks.
The Crown objected at that point and the jury was excused. When they returned, Brooks moved to another area of questioning.
Brooks took Bellwood through Bellwood's testimony in which he said Pickton reached between his legs as he sat on his bed, pulling out three items one by one -- a set of handcuffs, a belt and a piece of wire.
Brooks asked if Bellwood recalled seeing a "gag.''
Bellwood said he did not see a gag, but Brooks noted that Bellwood had told police in 2002: "He showed me a gag, too.''
But Bellwood pointed out that police statement also shows him saying he "thinks'' he saw a gag.
On Thursday, he said he recalled a "slight memory'' of a "bandana.''
Bellwood said he wanted to be "100 per cent'' certain of his evidence because "a man's life here is in jeopardy.''
Brooks noted Bellwood remained living on Pickton's farm for some days after hearing the story about how Pickton murdered prostitutes, butchered them and fed them to his pigs.
Bellwood agreed that he ate pork chops provided by Pickton after the story.
"How on earth could you eat pork chops?'' asked Brooks.
"Mr. Pickton was a nice fellow,'' said Bellwood. "I did not want to believe Mr. Pickton. It was just a story to me.''
Bellwood finished his testimony Thursday and was the 97th witness since the trial began Jan. 22. Jurors now get an 18-day break before resuming duty duties Aug. 7.
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.