August 28, 2015 - 9:12 AM
VANCOUVER - Whatever happened to a woman inside a trailer amounts to sexual assault, says a judge who must decide whether serial killer Robert Pickton's brother should pay legal costs.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Macintosh said a jury decided that David Pickton's actions were at the "modest end" when the woman was awarded $45,000 in damages in June.
Pickton either "slapped her on the ass" or allegedly felt her genitals through her jeans and threatened to rape and kill her, Macintosh said Thursday.
"He's an unorthodox man, there's absolutely no doubt about that. He's rough and he's tough and he certainly behaves in ways that probably most of us are not enamoured of," Macintosh said.
"But there is such a spectrum of dispute as to what happened in the trailer."
Macintosh reserved his decision until Friday.
David Pickton was convicted more than two decades ago for the 1991 attack on a woman at a construction site in Burnaby, B.C.
Lawyers for Pickton and the woman were in court Thursday seeking a decision on costs after the civil trial over the matter concluded in June.
Of the $45,000 award, $20,000 was for punitive damages, in part because jurors found that Pickton had inflicted lasting psychological trauma. The woman had sought upwards of $1 million, court heard.
Pickton was fined $1,000 when he was convicted in 1992 and handed one year's probation.
The Canadian Press does not name victims of sexual assault.
On Thursday, the woman's lawyer said she refused to settle the civil claim for $50,000 because Pickton called her a thief and a liar.
Jason Gratl said Pickton made the offer about six weeks before trial, but she went to court because he denied the attack was a sexual assault.
Gratl said Pickton's response to her lawsuit was that the woman was caught trespassing in his trailer.
He believed she was going to steal property so he applied the "minimal amount of force" to make her leave — which he admitted involved him hitting her on the buttocks with an open hand, court heard.
"It's not just that she wanted to have her day in court," Gratl said about his client's decision not to take the settlement.
"He has attacked her character in the response to civil claim. It would be a defamation if not for the privilege associated with lawsuits."
The woman is seeking $50,000 to $60,000 in addition to the damages she won in the trial, Gratl said outside court.
But court heard that generally, a plaintiff who is offered a larger settlement than the damages won in court would not be awarded any further money.
Pickton's lawyer argued on that basis that his client should not have to pay any more cash but instead be awarded costs himself.
Andrew Morrison also said his client did eventually admit at trial to sexual assault.
"If a slap on the rear end can be a sexual assault, then there is nothing inconsistent with acknowledging his conviction for a sexual assault, but pleading that he didn't touch the genitalia, he didn't threaten rape."
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2015