Civil suits against killer Russell Williams bundled

Toronto Sun/The Intelligencer journalist Ian Robertson holds a copy of 'How a colonel became a killer', the story of convicted killer Russell Williams.



BELLEVILLE, ON -- Approval has been granted to "bundle" and manage several civil suits filed against convicted killer Russell Williams and his estranged wife.

The cases will be heard by a Kingston, Ont., judge.

Scheduling dates for lawyers representing the four central plaintiffs in the case to meet with case management officials now tops the agenda, said Mike Pretsell, a city lawyer representing two clients at the heart of the suit against the former air force colonel and is estranged wife, Elizabeth Harriman.

“We don't have a date set for when that's going to happen,” Pretsell said when asked about establishing dates for a handful of lawyers to meet with the judge.

The request for grouped case management of the multiple case files in the multimillion-dollar lawsuit was supported by Justice Charles Hackland, who signed a draft order permitting the process.

The suits mostly involve victims or families of victims of the former 8 Wing commander turned sadistic killer and some are directed against Harriman. Some plaintiffs have launched suits for the sexual assaults committed by Williams in the Tweed, Ont., area prior to the killings of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, of Brighton, Ont., and Jessica Lloyd, 27, of Belleville.

None of the allegations made in the suits have been heard in court.

Administrative hiccups have been blamed for the slowed progression of the legal actions since Justice Robert Scott, who handled Williams' sentencing, recused himself from the suit in September.

All parties involved, including Harriman's lawyer, Mary Jane Binks, have agreed that case management is necessary to avoid an anticipated duplication of issues and evidence prevalent in all the lawsuits.

While a Kingston judge is being sought for the preliminary document-sorting proceedings, the case is not being relocated to that city for trial, but will return to Belleville following case management proceedings.

Williams is serving life in prison at Millhaven Penitentiary in Kingston. He was convicted in October 2010 of sexually attacking two Tweed women in their homes and the first-degree murders of Comeau and Lloyd, 27.

He was also convicted of dozens of break-ins and thefts in Belleville, Tweed and Ottawa. The Lloyd family, represented by Pretsell, is seeking $4 million in damages from her killer. Williams and Harriman have refuted all claims filed to date.

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