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VANCOUVER — A woman sexually assaulted by David Pickton testified she had a mental breakdown after learning the man’s family farm and his brother were at the centre of a serial-murder investigation. 

The woman is suing David Pickton for compensation for the sex assault he was convicted of in 1992 and also for unproven threats of rape and murder.

Under cross-examination Wednesday at the B.C. Supreme Court civil trial, Pickton’s lawyer questioned the woman about a history of psychiatric disorders.

Ian Donaldson asked the woman about her hospitalization shortly after Robert Pickton was arrested and charged with murdering women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“There is no mention of the name Pickton in any medical records of yours until March of 2002?”

The woman disagreed, but estimated she’s had regular dealings with psychiatrists for nearly 30 years.

“I told everyone about getting chopped up, and the job, and the bikers, and everything,” she replied.

She previously told the jury that David Pickton’s employee warned her that she would be cut into pieces if she didn’t withdraw complaints to police and leave town after she was groped by Pickton on the construction site where they worked.

The Canadian Press does not name victims of sexual assault.

Members of a motorcycle gang later staked out the house where she and her young son lived, the court also heard.

The woman filed the civil lawsuit, seeking damages for psychological harm, financial losses from lost work and punitive compensation over the 24 years since David Pickton was convicted of the sex assault.

She testified that her mental health problems were triggered when she saw David Pickton’s face on TV, prompting her to throw up, bleach her entire house and then go to the hospital.

She said she knew nothing at the time about David’s brother, Robert, or the pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., that was ultimately excavated to reveal the DNA and remains of 33 women.

Robert Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder. His brother has never been accused or charged in relation to the crimes.

But the woman testified that during the months when the facts about the case were murky, she saw multiple news reports featuring photographs of both brothers and the farm.

She testified that she believed the man who issued the death threat and who sexually assaulted her was accused of the serial murders.

“I felt that I was alive and I was in trouble now, because I’m alive and I know what happened,” she told the jury, adding to previous testimony that she was wracked with guilt for not pushing harder at the time to make the death threats public. 

“I believed David Pickton had chopped up people and put them in his yard. I believed they were women who weren’t as lucky as me.”

She agreed under cross-examination that she occasionally binge-drank and used cocaine to cope with emotional issues, and once she became sober she suffered postpartum depression after her son’s birth.

Follow @TamsynBurgmann on Twitter

Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press

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