Robert 'Willie' Pickton in custody on Feb. 23

Chance for Pickton to leave prison just 12 years away

Swift parole a long shot for serial killer of missing women: Expert

It was only a year ago that serial killer Robert Pickton’s second-degree murder convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, ensuring he serves a minimum 25 years with no chance of parole.

Several websites and news stories listed 2032 as the date for full parole eligibility – 25 years after a jury convicted him in December of 2007.

So Wayne Leng, a friend of murdered Vancouver woman Sarah de Vries, was surprised when told the Port Coquitlam murderer could actually be out in the community without an escort in just over 12 years.

Pickton’s eligibility date for day parole is Feb. 22, 2024.

And he’s eligible for full parole in 2027 – 25 years after his original arrest date on Feb. 22, 2002.

“Oh my God,” Leng said in an interview from Calgary. “I was thinking it was 2032. I thought he’d die in prison.”

Leng runs the website missingpeople.net, which has acted as an online gathering place for families of Pickton’s victims.

If granted day parole at the earliest chance, Pickton, now 61, would be 74 and able to move freely by day – subject to conditions – while returning to a halfway house or prison cell at night.

“The families would be absolutely against any kind of day parole,” Leng said.

He noted Pickton’s defence team had asked for parole eligibility in as little as 15 years.

Had the courts approved that request, he could have been out on full parole just over five years from now and perhaps even sooner on day parole.

National Parole Board spokesperson Heather Byron said the parole eligibility dates are simply the earliest points Pickton can apply for release.

She said a parole board hearing on his full parole has been automatically scheduled a month in advance – for January of 2027 – while it’s up to Pickton to ask for day parole consideration.

In calculating his prison term, Pickton’s time in jail awaiting trial was treated as straight time, not the much-criticized two-for-one method of counting pre-trial custody double against the sentence – a practice being eliminated under federal Conservative justice reforms.

Some legal experts say the odds of Pickton ever being released are remote.

Irwin Cohen, a criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley, said it’s “highly unlikely” Pickton would get full parole as soon as the 25 years are up.

“There would be a massive public outcry,” Cohen said. “I can’t think of a Canadian example of somebody found guilty of the types of crimes he has who would get out on their first parole date.”

He also noted Pickton could still be classified a dangerous offender and imprisoned indefinitely.

Even if Pickton is released in 2027, he would not be truly free.

His sentence means he will be under the control of Corrections Canada for the rest of his life.

During the police investigation of the the serial killings, Pickton told an undercover officer he murdered 49 women and planned to do one more to make it an “even 50” and then take a break before killing 25 more.

He was only tried on six of 26 counts of murder to simplify the complex case and a jury convicted him of second-degree, not first-degree murder.

The Missing Women Inquiry headed by former attorney-general Wally Oppal begins hearings in Vancouver Oct. 11, examining the police handling of the Pickton investigation and the disappearances of addicted women from the Downtown Eastside.

Oppal was recently criticized for potentially pre-judging some of the issues before him and some groups representing women have refused to participate after being denied funding for lawyers.

Leng said the lead-up to the inquiry has been “a mess” but said it would be wrong for the government to remove Oppal now.

“We have to continue on with Wally Oppal,” he said. “We trust him. We’ve got to go forward.”

The commission may not uncover much, Leng conceded, but said he hopes it turns up answers on how the Vancouver Police and the RCMP failed to stop Pickton’s killing spree faster.

 

PHOTO: Some of the women who went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Pickton was convicted of killing just six of them. Another 20 counts never went to trial and DNA of still more women were found on the Pickton farm but never resulted in charges.

Just Posted

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs acquire veteran forward from QMJHL

Matthew Grouchy set to join the Bulldogs on Friday, Dec. 13

BUDGET 2020: WVIHS rolls out five-year plan for Port Alberni heritage train

Port Alberni council considers options in budget preparation

Alberni high school students fill Salvation Army van full of food

ADSS Athletic Dept.’s eighth annual food drive fills van, bellies with food donations

Island businessman opens up about his journey with prostate cancer

Port Alberni’s Kevin Wright shares online journal entries to help others understand

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

One man dead after car crash in Nanaimo

One person died, another was injured in the accident which happened Wednesday on Nanaimo Lakes Road

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read