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Week 16: Witness disgusted by pig farmer's work

Foreman recalls visits to rendering plant where accused handled offal with his bare hands

Globe and Mail Update

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — Robert Bayers spends a good part of his day supervising the dumping, grinding and crushing of pig, beef, fish and other remains. As a foreman at a rendering plant, he is familiar with the sights and smells of the business.

But even in that environment, pig farmer Robert Pickton stood out, Mr. Bayers told the court during the 16th week of the first-degree murder trial.

Mr. Pickton did not use gloves to dump offal at the rendering plant. It was "so gross-looking" to watch Mr. Pickton with the dirty old barrels that he offered Mr. Pickton a pair of gloves. Mr. Pickton declined the offer, Mr. Bayers told court.

"He was such a dirty guy. It was gross," Mr. Bayers said. "I felt sorry for him." The dead animals are "not a very pretty thing to work with, with your bare hands," he said, adding that he did not remember the date.

Mr. Bayers was asked whether he saw Mr. Pickton in the courtroom. He pointed to Mr. Pickton in the prisoner's box.

"He looks a lot cleaner today than when I saw him," Mr. Bayers said.

Mr. Pickton, in a grey pressed shirt and black jeans, broke out in a broad grin, one of the few occasions he has shown any emotion since the trial began four months ago.

Unlike photographs taken before his arrest, Mr. Pickton is now clean-shaven, with a bald pate and short, greasy strings of hair along the side of his head, barely going beyond his collar.

Mr. Pickton is on trial for the murder of six women. In the opening days of the trial, the jury heard Mr. Pickton refer to a rendering plant.

The prosecution played a videotape in court of a conversation Mr. Pickton had with his cellmate after he was arrested on Feb. 22, 2002. Mr. Pickton did not know his cellmate was an undercover police officer.

Mr. Pickton's cellmate, who said he is in jail on an attempted-murder charge, tells Mr. Pickton the best way to dispose of something is to take it to the ocean.

"I did better than that," Mr. Pickton says. "A rendering plant."

Mr. Pickton was a small supplier for the West Coast Reduction plant on Vancouver's waterfront near the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

He brought five or six 45-gallon barrels of offal to the plant in his old flat-deck white truck as many as 10 times, Mr. Bayers said.

Mr. Bayers, the plant foreman at West Coast Reduction, saw Mr. Pickton face to face only once or twice. Other times, he just saw Mr. Pickton's white truck.

He also recalled seeing a woman accompany Mr. Pickton on more than one occasion.

"She was quite a rough-looking woman, dressed in a track suit, bad acne," he said. Mr. Bayers remembered she stood at the door to the dumping pit and did not want to be in the receiving area.

"It stunk so bad," Mr. Bayers said.

The remainder of Week 16 at the trial was spent on legal arguments that could not be reported because they were not heard before the jury.

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