A jury that convicted a man of first-degree murder in the “webcam” death of a student from China did not know about “disturbing” alleged online postings, his collection of Asian pornography and complaints of previous attacks on women.
Brian Dickson was found guilty on Monday after the jury deliberated for four hours. He received an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
His victim’s parents travelled from China for the trial. Qian Liu’s father wiped tears from his eyes as the verdict was read.
“We are still very sad,” Jian Hui Liu said after the verdict through a translator. His wife clutched a picture of their daughter and cried silently.
“The jury system in Canada is very good and very fair.”
The ex-boyfriend of Ms. Liu, 23, had been chatting via webcam with her in the early morning hours of April 15, 2011, when he saw Mr. Dickson force his way into her room and knock her down.
The ex-boyfriend, Xian Meng, testified that after the sound of two muffled bangs he said he heard no more sounds from Ms. Liu. He said he heard Mr. Dickson breathing heavily and moments later the man appeared naked in front of the webcam and turned off the computer.
The York University student was found dead, mostly naked and face down on the floor of her off-campus basement apartment. Semen matched to a high probability to Dickson was on her thigh and groin.
Ms. Liu died of asphyxiation.
Mr. Dickson’s lawyer, Robert Nuttall, said his client accepted the verdict, but he will look to see if there are grounds for appeal.
“The case hung on the mechanism of death,” Mr. Nuttall said. “The jury struggled with it, the jury made their decision and they made their decision of first-degree murder.”
The verdict indicates the jury believed Mr. Dickson intentionally killed Ms. Liu during a sexual assault.
But the 12 jurors did not know about evidence that was presented at Dickson’s bail hearing in January, 2012, but was not introduced at his trial.
Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Frank Skubic testified at the bail hearing that the child exploitation section of the sex crimes unit searched Mr. Dickson’s Internet presence and the “most concerning” activities were from a website for “nudist friends.”
Police found 34 posts to a variety of message boards, including ones in which the poster advocated having sex with children, Det.-Sgt. Skubic testified. He listed some excerpts.
Crown attorney Christine Pirraglia characterized the online conversations as being of a “very disturbing nature.”
Det.-Sgt. Skubic also testified at the bail hearing that 103 pornographic DVDs were found in Mr. Dickson’s room – 51 of which were Asian pornography, 27 involved teenage porn and the rest were “regular” porn.
Mr. Dickson had no criminal record but charges were withdrawn three times in the past, two of which were alleged crimes against women, the bail hearing was told.
A shoplifting allegation from 2008 was also withdrawn, Det.-Sgt. Skubic said.