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Security video lacking at Surrey mom's murder scene

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

A memorial has been set up at the Newton Arena to remember murdered mom Julie Paskall.

A memorial has been set up at the Newton Arena to remember murdered mom Julie Paskall. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

In a record-setting year for homicides in Surrey, the last one of 2013 was the most shocking. Julie Paskall, 53, was found brutally beaten in the parking lot of the Newton Arena, and later died in hospital. The killing shocked her community and all of Metro Vancouver.

She wasn’t a gangster. She didn’t live a “high-risk lifestyle.” She was a mother and longtime hockey volunteer. She was at the arena to pick up her son, who was finishing refereeing a hockey game in a year-end tournament. She could have been anyone reading this.

Paskall was beaten so badly, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team almost immediately took charge of the case.

After assuming conduct of the investigation, police set up a command post at the arena and publicly appealed for information. Posters were put up in the community, with photos of the victim and pleas for anyone with information to come forward.

What this seems to be saying — reading between the lines — is that IHIT investigators have what murder police call a “stone-cold whodunit.”

How was this murder possible, in this day and age, at a public facility like the arena, which is also next to a busy community centre and pool? Places like this cater primarily to families and are teeming with kids, often unsupervised as many parents drop off and pick up later. Where were the security cameras?

I drove out there on Monday morning and took a look and there were no cameras apparent. IHIT investigators say they have some video, but clearly none of the area where the killing occurred.

Sgt. Adam MacIntosh, media liaison for IHIT, told me that they have “some video which they are currently analyzing to see if there is any information which can advance their investigation.” He also indicated there were not “several” cameras with a view of the parking area between the arena and the wave pool.

In 2006, Joshua Goos was killed in an area leading from the parking lot to the main facility at Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver. CCTV cameras caught everything and were instrumental in providing police with the evidence they needed to identify, arrest and have a suspect in court within 48 hours.

I get that a municipal facility is not funded at the same level as a tony private club. But surely the families who use such high-traffic facilities deserve more than “some” video to help protect them?

This is not a privacy issue. It is a security issue. And if the worst happens, it is an investigative issue. A quick clearance by police protects everyone.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of  

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