Giesbrecht murder trial continues

Smithers court hears testimony of decades of domestic abuse in Burns Lake murder trial.

  • Feb. 5, 2019 5:00 p.m.

By Thom Barker

The trial of Albert Giesbrecht for the alleged 2017 murder of Raymond Bishop is continuing this week at B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers.

Today (Tuesday, Feb. 5), Justice David Crossin heard testimony of decades of alleged verbal and physical abuse between Giesbrecht and his wife Susan Giesbrecht, who separated in 2015.

Kathleen Gardner, Susan’s sister, testified she had personally witnessed Albert throwing Susan around by the hair, slamming her into a wall, throwing wood and shovels of dirt at her and kicking at her, in addition to constant screaming, swearing and name-calling.

Gardner also told the court that a few days before Bishop was found shot to death near Francois Lake on May 18, 2017, he and Susan had decided they were going to take their relationship public and had gone into Burns Lake together.

READ MORE: Protest over Giesbrecht bail release

Stephen Giesbrecht, the defendant’s son, also testified his father had been verbally, violently and emotionally abusive to his mother as far back into his childhood as he could remember until he left home in 1995.

The Crown, represented by prosecutor Nina Purewal, introduced text messages between Stephen and his father, and questioned the witness about Albert’s state of mind around the time of the alleged murder.

Stephen said their relationship had deteriorated in the few months before, and on a couple of occasions his father had asked if he knew that his mother was “shacking up with Ray Bishop” and had said that he (Albert) “thought [Ray] was his friend.”

READ MORE: Giesbrecht re-arrested after bail release

On cross-examination, defence attorney Terry La Liberté tried to pin the witnesses down to specific instances and dates of abuse and had them admit they had never seen Albert actually strike his wife.

The defence asked Gardner why, if the alleged abuse was so pervasive, she had never gone to the police. Gardner said she felt it was not her place to do so.

Both witnesses also answered on cross-examination that they had not heard Albert make any threats against either Susan or Bishop.

The trial is scheduled to continue through Feb. 22.

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