NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. Robert Pickton was smiling broadly as he listened to a key prosecution witness contradicting previous evidence from an RCMP officer and repeatedly changing his testimony.
Scott Chubb was testifying during the 19th week of the first-degree murder trial. As he was on the stand for his second day a jury member held his hands over his eyes; another was shaking his head as if in disbelief. Others appeared to be snickering as Mr. Chubb told the court that he had no recollection of making statements attributed to him that police used to obtain a search warrant for Mr. Pickton's farm.
Under intense questioning by defence lawyer Peter Ritchie, Mr. Chubb offered an account of events that was in sharp contrast to evidence heard previously at the trial from police officers. Also, on several occasions, Mr. Chubb contradicted his own statements moments after making them and disagreed with testimony he had given in court during the preliminary hearing for the trial in 2003.
The prosecution had called Mr. Chubb, a long-time employee of the Pickton family, as a witness to tell the court about a conversation in which Mr. Pickton allegedly said a way to kill junkies was to inject them with windshield wiper fluid. Prosecutor Geoff Baragar did not question Mr. Chubb about the tip he provided to police that led to the raid of the Pickton farm.
But Mr. Ritchie questioned whether Mr. Chubb needed money when he gave police information about illegal guns on the Pickton property and whether his judgment at the time was affected by an addiction to heroin.
Mr. Chubb said he needed money to support his family, but did not provide information to police in exchange for money. After persistently denying he had received any money, he changed his testimony and agreed that he had received $750 on the day after Mr. Pickton's farm was raided.
Later, Mr. Chubb flatly rejected the police version of his role leading up to the raid of the Pickton farm.
RCMP Constable Nathan Wells, a member of the Coquitlam RCMP detachment, made notes of his meeting with Mr. Chubb on Feb. 5, 2002, hours before police applied for court approval to search the farm.
Constable Wells stated in his notes that Mr. Chubb told police he saw three firearms and ammunition within the previous 36 hours on Mr. Pickton's farm. Mr. Chubb's statements were the basis for court approval for police entering the Pickton property.
Once on the property, police found items associated with two of Vancouver's missing women. The joint RCMP-Vancouver Police Department Missing Women Task Force came back the next day with a new search warrant. Mr. Pickton was arrested for murder two weeks later.
But yesterday, Mr. Chubb told the court he had no recollection of a conversation with Constable Wells in February, 2002.
Mr. Chubb said he met police in the fall of 2001 and told them he had seen guns on Mr. Pickton's farm a year or two earlier. He provided more information at a subsequent meeting with Constable Wells and an officer from the missing women task force, he said. His recollection was that he was giving information that would enable the missing women task force to establish its credibility "and go after Mr. Pickton," he said.
Mr. Chubb said he had no recollection of telling police he had seen guns on the farm within the previous 36 hours. He was not on the property in February, 2002, he said. The last time he was on the property was in 2001.
Mr. Chubb told the court his memory has been affected by a head injury that required more than 160 stitches. Medical records showed that incident occurred in April, 2000.
Mr. Chubb said he began taking heroin as a pain killer after his doctor took him off morphine. After three or four months of heroin, he went into a methadone maintenance program.
His medical records told a different story. Mr. Chubb said the medical records were incomplete. They did not show that he bought the morphine illegally on the street. But he could not tell the court when, where or how much of the drug he bought. "I was in a pretty foggy time. ... I do not remember much," he said.
Court also heard that Mr. Chubb applied for the $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case days after Mr. Pickton was arrested.
He had already received thousands of dollars from police, he confirmed in response to questioning by Mr. Ritchie.
During his third day in the witness box, Mr. Chubb said Dave Pickton phoned him a day or two after Robert Pickton was arrested on Feb. 22, 2002.
"[He] told me if Willie goes down, then everyone else was going to go down," Mr. Chubb said, referring to Robert Pickton by a diminutive of his middle name, William.
Mr. Chubb told the court that he phoned the RCMP-Vancouver Police Department Missing Women Task Force after receiving the threat. He was told go to the closest hotel outside Port Coquitlam, he said.
Mr. Chubb denied Mr. Ritchie's suggestion that he told police at that time that Dave Pickton had a connection to the Hells Angels.
"I've never seen Mr. [Dave] Pickton with the Hells Angels, never," he said.
But he admitted the threat frightened him. "I was scared, you're damn right. I was scared of Mr. [Dave] Pickton. He threatened me," Mr. Chubb said. "I was not aware what he was capable of, at that time."
The police considered him for the witness protection program, he said. After a few days in a hotel in the Vancouver area, he spent two months outside Salmon Arm and then moved to Kamloops, he said.
Mr. Ritchie pressed Mr. Chubb to confirm how much money he received from the RCMP.
He told the court the questions were intended to show that Mr. Chubb was "milking" the police for as much as he could and then threatening not to testify.
The court heard that police involved in an incident with Mr. Chubb in 2005 stated that Mr. Chubb told them several times he "had given the RCMP Willie Pickton." He wanted a break because he was "a Pickton witness," the police stated.
Mr. Chubb said he did not recall making those comments. "Never at any time did I say I would not appear at this trial," he said.
Mr. Chubb told the court that he received $1,800 a month for three months when he was relocated. He did not recall receiving any additional money.
Mr. Ritchie suggested the RCMP spent $13,440 on him by March 14, 2002. They paid an auto insurance debt, phone bills, rent and car insurance and bought him a used vehicle.
Mr. Chubb said he did not recall asking police for money. He was concerned only about protection from harm, he said.
He inquired about the reward in late February, 2002, Mr. Chubb said. He was told the reward would not be available until someone was convicted in the case.
Despite his concern about the threats, Mr. Chubb returned briefly to Coquitlam hours after police had moved him to the Salmon Arm area. At first, Mr. Chubb said he came to visit his mother or mother-in-law. Pressed by the defence lawyer to elaborate, Mr. Chubb said: "It's a free country, Mr. Ritchie. I can go whereabouts in the country I choose."