But RCMP Supt. Bob Williams refused to say on the stand at the Missing Women Inquiry Thursday if naming those informants put their lives at risk or undermined what was still an active serial-murder investigation.
Williams interviewed the officer, Cpl. Frank Henley, for his 2002 report on whether the Mounties could be liable for civil lawsuit compensation to the families of women murdered by Pickton.
“Snitches are not welcome in the criminal underworld, in fact they are probably often killed?” demanded lawyer Jason Gratl, a lawyer acting for Downtown Eastside aboriginal and women’s groups.
Pressed by Gratl to say if revealing sources was a “breach of discipline . . . or a firing offence,” Williams, the first senior Mountie to take the stand, protested, “that’s going pretty far.”
Williams testified that one of Henley’s reasons for his “visit” to Pickton may have been that the Mountie might have been curious, “trying to get a handle on what makes him [Pickton] tick, that sort of thing.”
Williams noted Henley also visited Pickton “on his mistaken belief that the police investigation [into Pickton as a serial killer] had shut down.”
Aside from curiosity, Williams was at a loss to account for Henley, protesting “it would be better if he explained his reasons” to the inquiry.
Henley gave Pickton the names of informants Ross Caldwell and Lynn Ellingsen, whose eyewitness evidence later helped convict Pickton.
Pickton was at the time of Henley’s visit a key focus of the joint RCMP-Vancouver police Missing Women Task Force.
Asked if Henley’s perception was “odd,” Williams shot back, “There’s lots of oddities in this investigation.”
Williams, a 44-year veteran Mountie, said he as a leader would not have condoned the visit by Henley.
Several lawyers at the inquiry, as well as victims’ families, are pushing for the inquiry to call front line investigators, instead of “armchair experts” or top officers like Williams and Vancouver Police Department Deputy Chief Doug LePard.
Next Monday, however, the inquiry will hear from another “review” witness, Peel, Ontario Region Deputy Chief Jennifer Evans, who last year conducted an exhaustive review of the Pickton investigation for the inquiry.
Hearings at the inquiry will continue until the end of April, with Commissioner Wally Oppal pledging to hand in his final report by June.