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

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Accused pleads not guilty as Trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder

Colin John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

Cedar Yellow Point Artisan Tour marks 30 years of handmade art

Around 20 artists and artisans south of Nanaimo to open their studio doors

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Most Read