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Defence objects to question about 'non-consensual sex' at Burnaby murder trial

Dr. Tracy Pickett, an expert from the B.C. Women's Hospital sexual assault service, testified at the murder trial of Ibrahim Ali Monday.
A police crime scene photo shows police tape marking the location of a wallet and cell phone belonging to a 13-year-old girl found dead in Burnaby's Central Park on July 19, 2017.

Advisory: This story includes disturbing details about a murder trial.

A sexual assault expert will have to wait till Tuesday to find out if she’ll be allowed to give her opinion on whether injuries to a girl found dead in a Burnaby park six years ago “appeared to be more consistent with consensual or non-consensual sexual activity.”

Dr. Tracy Pickett, the director of B.C. Women's Hospital sexual assault service, took the witness stand at the trial of Ibrahim Ali in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday.

Ali has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 13-year-old girl, whose body was found in Central Park on July 19, 2017, less than two hours after her family reported her missing at about 11 p.m. on July 18, 2017.

Ali has pleaded not guilty.

The girl cannot be identified because of a publication ban.

Pickett testified she had been asked by Crown counsel in January 2021 to give an expert opinion on the injuries found on the body of the young teen, including tearing within the vagina and anus and bruising within the walls of the rectum.

She said she had formed a number of opinions based on photos of the body at the crime scene, autopsy photos, an autopsy report, a report by a neuropathologist and a toxicology report.

"Did that include forming an opinion with respect to whether the constellation of findings, including injuries, appeared to be more consistent with consensual or non-consensual sexual activity?" Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley asked.

Before Pickett could answer, defence lawyer Ben Lynskey objected.

Justice Lance Bernard told the jury he would deal with the objection in their absence on Tuesday, and Keeley skipped over the question.

She went on to ask Pickett her opinion on the likely cause of the injuries to the girl's genital area.

Pickett said the injuries were "highly indicative" of blunt force trauma inflicted during penetration with a relatively large object, such as a penis.

She said it was "highly unlikely" that a smaller object, such as a tampon, could have caused the injuries.

Pickett's testimony is expected to continue on Tuesday.

The Crown's theory is that Ali and the girl were strangers to one another and that he attacked her on a trail in Central Park, dragged her into the forest and strangled her to death while sexually assaulting her.

The defence has not outlined its theory but has suggested the killer and whoever had sex with the young teen – "either forced sex or sex" – are not the same people.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor