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$50K for those who sued Robert Pickton

The botched investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton has resulted in a settlement of $50,000 for each of the victims' children who sued three levels of government and the RCMP.

Lawyer Jason Gratl said Monday that the deal involves 13 plaintiffs who filed civil suits against the provincial and federal governments, the City of Vancouver and several Mounties.

Gratl said the children of the murdered women took legal action reluctantly but felt they had no choice when the governments didn't act on a recommendation from the public inquiry to compensate family members.

His clients are generally pleased with the settlement, Gratl said.

"It's giving the children of missing women a leg up to try, in some small measure, to give them a chance to improve their lives, improve their prospects in the future. It was something worth doing."

Eleven family members have accepted the proposal, one person is expected to respond shortly and B.C.'s public guardian must approve a settlement accepted by a boy who has not yet turned 18, Gratl said.

A lawyer for the B.C. government told a judge in January that there could be more than 90 children who would qualify for compensation. It's unclear if other family members will also be compensated.

None of the governments involved have returned calls for comment.

The agreement includes paying for children's legal fees, but doesn't come with an admission of liability, Gratl said.

The DNA or remains of 33 women were found on Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam after he was arrested in 2002. He was convicted of second-degree murder for killing six women and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.

The families claimed in their lawsuits that Vancouver police and the RCMP were negligent when they investigated reports of missing sex workers and the possibility that Pickton might be responsible.

The court action also said the Crown was wrong when it didn't put Pickton on trial for attempted murder following an attack on a sex worker in 1997.

The public inquiry into the murder investigation and the actions of Pickton found many failures by police, and commissioner Wally Oppal recommended a so-called healing fund to compensate the children of Pickton's victims.

Gratl said the agreement has been finalized with the government defendants, but the civil action against Pickton and his brother is continuing.

"There's nothing in this settlement that restricts the plaintiffs from carrying on against Robert and David Pickton, and they intend to do so."

The Canadian Press

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