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Why judge ruled against Pickton 'confession' Add to ...

Shortly before serial killer Robert Pickton was arrested in February, 2002, Constable Dana Lillies would drop by and chat with him, listening attentively as he rambled on.

During her third visit with him, Mr. Pickton playfully told her that police would likely find a pile of bones on the family farm. The police at that time were conducting an exhaustive search of the property, looking for evidence linking him to women who had gone missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

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"I do have a pile of bones here," Mr. Pickton told Constable Lillies on Feb. 20, 2002. "The bones are very interesting because they look like leg bones; they're bones about three feet long.

"Some people [would think they are]looking at real bones ... there's a pile of them ... in the barn ... right behind the cooler," he said, offering to show her where everything was if police would let him return to the farm.

He provided directions: "Close to the outside of the barn, the piggery is here, one doorway, a doorway there, right on the corner of the doorway, I got leg bones, three feet long. You'd be interested looking at those," he said.

Police might say there were human bones but they were not, Mr. Pickton said.

Constable Lillies reacted as if Mr. Pickton was making a confession. "I'm not here to judge you, Robert, I just want to understand it," she said. Mr. Pickton changed the subject but the police officer turned their discussion back to the bones. "What are they?" she asked.

"They are not human," Mr. Pickton repeated. But he held out the possibility that the bones could be what police were searching for. "If they are [human] my name is mud," Mr. Pickton said. "They're probably gonna be analyzed, and if they come back human, I'm nailed to the cross, I guarantee that," he also said.

The jury at Mr. Pickton's trial on charges of second-degree murder of six women never heard testimony about his statements to Constable Lillies, who had become a corporal by the time she testified in 2006.

In a ruling subject to a publication ban, Mr. Justice James Williams of B.C. Supreme Court decided that the statements were not made voluntarily and were inadmissible. Constable Lillies did not disclose to Mr. Pickton that she was involved in the missing women's investigation. Also, she broached the topic of the investigation in an almost incidental fashion, he said.

"I am left with a reasonable doubt whether Mr. Pickton appreciated that, in speaking with Cpl. Lillies, he would be taken to have exercised his choice to speak to the police about the missing women investigation in which he was the prime suspect," the judge wrote in a ruling in 2006.

The publication ban in the Pickton trial was lifted Wednesday. Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Mr. Pickton's conviction of second-degree murder of six women. Police say they believe he is responsible for at least 33 and possibly as many as 49 deaths.

The ruling on evidence from Cpl. Lillies's interview was one of several where the judge ruled on admissibility of evidence.

In another ruling that was previously subject to a publication ban, Judge Williams decided that the search warrant for the Pickton farm should not have been issued and the search was contrary to a Charter provision guaranteeing protection against unreasonable searches. Also, Mr. Pickton's right to counsel during the search had been violated.

However, unlike the Lillies ruling, Judge Williams decided the violations were technical and the magnitude of the murder charges overshadowed the violations.

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