On their first date, Peter Gill wooed Gillian Guess under an oak tree in Stanley Park and kissed her. She was a juror at his murder trial and they were on a rare daytime break from court.
Ms. Guess, 44, said she was distraught and shaking because of a trauma suffered by clients where she worked, and Mr. Gill was the only person in the world she felt she could talk to.
Also, she told a Vancouver court yesterday, "I think he liked the fact that I shook in his presence."
It was July of 1995, three months into Mr. Gill's murder trial for the gangland-style shootings of Ron and Jim Dosanjh. Within hours of that kiss, the relationship developed into an affair, which lasted until her arrest for obstruction of justice in May of 1996.
During that time, Mr. Gill would also follow, threaten and eventually assault her, Ms. Guess testified. He left messages on her answering machine ordering her to smile at him in court, and once instructed her to wear red in court.
More important, Mr. Gill told her he was innocent of the murder charges for which he was on trial, that he was a victim of police misconduct and instructed her to convict two of his co-accused, Bindy Johal and Ho Sik Kim. When the jury eventually acquitted all six men accused of murder in the case, Mr. Gill reprimanded her for not persuading the rest of the jury to convict Mr. Johal and Mr. Kim.
Eventually police got wind of the affair and wiretapped Ms. Guess's phone and bedroom. She was convicted of obstruction of justice in 1998 and sentenced to 18 months in jail. She is free on bail while she appeals the conviction.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, have launched appeals of three of the six acquittals. The hearing at which Ms. Guess is testifying is a so-called fresh-evidence hearing, the transcripts of which will be sent on to a five-member appeal court panel that will decide whether to call new trials.
In retrospect, Ms. Guess said, her affair with Mr. Gill was wrong, but she was mixed up and confused at the time.
"At the time, I thought I felt love for him," Ms. Guess told the court. "But in retrospect it wasn't love. It was an obsession."
Ms. Guess said Mr. Gill initially aroused a maternal instinct in her and made her laugh. But she also feared him and had misgivings about their relationship from the first night they slept together.
On that night, he arrived at her house in a leather jacket and with wild-looking hair. "I looked through the peephole and I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my life," Ms. Guess said. Still, she let him in, though afterward she said she felt "disgusted and degraded."
"It was really stupid of me, but I really did think that if we had sex, it would get it out of our systems."
She said she tried to avoid Mr. Gill for the next couple of weeks, but by August of 1995, the affair had resumed. By then, Mr. Gill was growing abusive. Once, angry at her half-hearted attempt to smile at him in court, Mr. Gill followed her home and assaulted her by squeezing his hands around her throat.
Ms. Guess said she remained calm and asked, "Are you trying to scare me?" He replied, "I would never do that, would I?"
As the trial wore on, Ms. Guess said she was increasingly drawn to the notion that Mr. Gill was the victim of racism and police misconduct.
"I was a bleeding-heart liberal," Ms. Guess said. "I believed he had been wrongfully accused. That was my frame of reference going into the trial."
When pressed by Crown attorney Mark Andrews on why she continued to have relations with a man whose fate she was deciding in a criminal court, Ms. Guess was vague. She said that before she realized what was happening, Mr. Gill had turned violent, and she was afraid to anger him. Specifically, she said she was afraid of "sexual assault and death."
Even though the two had an 11-month relationship, Ms. Guess said, in her mind, the affair only held any significance to her during a brief two-week period immediately after his acquittal. The rest of the time, she said, she was either too confused or too frightened to think properly.