Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Pickton: The Vancouver Missing Women

The Witnesses: Chubb

by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

Scott Chubb was one of the prosecution's key witnesses, writes Robert Matas for the Globe and Mail, having visited the farm a great deal and been privy to certain dark comments Pickton had reportedly made.  He was the informant who originally led police to the pig farm.

He'd met Pickton in 1993, becoming an employee, and allowed himself to be videotaped early in 2002 as he related what he knew from his dealings with Pickton.  The jury had seen this tape, says Greg Joyce for Canada.com.  A police officer, Constable Nathan Wells, had cultivated Chubb as an informant, paying him $1,450 altogether.  Thanks to what Chubb revealed (falsely, it turns out), they were able to get the warrant to search for illegal weapons.  Wells said that, at the time, he was unaware that Pickton was a suspect in the disappearance of women from Eastside Vancouver.  He believed only that he was confiscating an illegal gun.

Prosecutor Geoff Baragar led Chubb, a former heroin user, through testimony that included the fact that he'd had a strange conversation with Pickton one day.  Pickton had mentioned that a woman named Lynn Ellingsen was costing him a lot of money and he wanted Chubb to "talk" to her.  Chubb understood that he meant that Chubb should hurt or get rid of her.  (The police had suspected that she was blackmailing Pickton over something she had witnessed.)  Ethan Baron of CanWest News indicates that Chubb said Pickton had offered him $1,000 for this favor.  But the subject grew even darker.

During the course of this conversation, Chubb says that Pickton told him it was easy to kill drug addicts because they had needle marks and tracks already; if a person injected windshield washer fluid into them, they'd die and police would dismiss it as the result of a drug overdose.  (The jury has already learned that investigators had found a syringe containing windshield washer fluid in Pickton's trailer.)  This seemed like pretty damning testimony.

Under cross-examination, Pickton's attorney, Peter Richie, put Chubb on the spot, intending to show that he was a malleable person, easily exploited to state whatever facts the prosecutor required, even in contradiction to things he'd already said.  He wanted Chubb to admit he'd been trying to get money from the police in exchange for his testimony — to the tune of several thousand dollars - but Chubb said it was for protection for himself and his family, in case Pickton's brother, who'd threatened him, came after him.  He denied being paid as an informant, although police notes indicate they had paid him specifically for information.  There were other contradictions, too, but Chubb offered a head injury as an excuse for his poor memory.  Still, his comments sounded more like revisionist memory.

He denied and then admitted to certain facts, such as his claim that he did not know much about guns and had only handled Pickton's, when he actually had a conviction for possession of an unregistered weapon.  In explaining why he'd gone to the police at all, he said it was to get them to go after a drug dealer to help get his girlfriend off cocaine.  He'd supposedly told police at that time that he'd seen a forbidden firearm on the property, a Mac-10, but in court Chubb admitted he'd only been told about it.  He said it was Wells who got the information "confused."

Pickton seemed to be enjoying the dismantling of Chubb's credibility, and some reporters believed he was nearly ready to laugh, despite the grim nature of the accusations.  Even so, Chubb told the attorneys they could go ahead and attack his character, but he was not the one on trial for six counts of murder.

The trial continues.  This month, too, a controversial book on the subject, The Pickton File, has been published in Canada by Stevie Cameron, detailing early parts of the case and victim backgrounds.  She expects to publish the sequel when the trial concludes.

 

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