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Cook trial underway
Looking back now on a January 2000 home visit, social worker Sarah Lloyd told a B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday, in hindsight, she would likely have asked more questions and taken further steps to locate 13-year-old Adam Williams-Dudoward.
Her testimony came in response to several questions put to her during cross examination Wednesday by defence lawyer Stephen Taylor. Adam’s stepfather Lloyd William Cook, 50, is standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George. He has pleaded not guilty to one count each of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, unlawful confinement and interference with a dead body.
Following an investigation, Cook was arrested in Oliver, B.C. in June 2009 and charged in connection with Adam’s death.
On the stand, Lloyd said that she was following up on an alleged child protection issue and other concerns about Adam and his brother Bradley. But she said her efforts to talk with family members were frustrated by the boys’ mother, Judy Williams, who was “very quiet”, showing “lack of eye contact” and also the boys’ stepfather, Lloyd William Cook, who had a “level of agitation.”
Adam’s remains were discovered in late October 2004, in a wooded area off North Nechako Road. In 1999-2000, Lloyd was intake and investigations social worker with the Ministry of Family and Children Development (she is now a supervisor).
She agreed with Taylor that with the benefit of hindsight, she’d probably have done things differently respecting the case file and finding out Adam’s whereabouts.
Taylor: “You have a thankless and it is a difficult job that you do but in this case, knowing what you know now, if you could go back, would you do more in your investigation?”
Lloyd: “I would probably have removed Bradley from the (parents’) home the day of my visit and placed him in the care of the ministry and encouraged the RCMP partners [in the investigation] to help me find the older child [Adam].”
Taylor: “In this case you accepted what they [parents] told you, at that point there were no red flags?... in the meantime you relied on what Judy Williams told you... that Adam was living elsewhere?”
Lloyd agreed that was true.
She told the court she did meet with Williams on June 12, 2000 at her trailer in the Hart area. Lloyd told Taylor and Mr. Justice Glen Parrett, who also questioned her, that she took “no personal steps” to find out what address Adam was living at. However she was later – in her capacity as supervisor – told by a social worker on her team that Adam was living in Oliver [information that reportedly came from Williams], she said.
Justice Parrett: “Did you ask for an address?”
Lloyd: “No sir.”
Justice Parrett: “So your total follow up by the time you left was to talk to the police?”
Lloyd: “Yes sir.”
Also testifying Wednesday, Dr. Richard Lazeney, a biological anthropologist at UNBC, testified about the identification of skeletal remains. He was called to the remote “disposal site” at the end of October 2004 to help with the police and coroner’s investigation.
“We found two femura, left and right side,” he said. “The body had been left in the woods, lying on the ground where animals had been active.”
Lazeney said he had no difficulty identifying the bones as human.
“Humans have very distinctive skeleton,” he said.
Sgt. Leon Fiedler, an RCMP dog handler since 2000, was the third witness to take the stand Wednesday. Holding photographs, the officer described how in late October 2004 he and his dog did a search of three or more areas about six kilometres off the North Nechako road.
“I noticed a small piece of fabric hanging off a bush ... more fabric was seen in the area in moss and undergrowth,” he said.
The officer said he put surveyor’s tape around the area he believed was the disposal site, with tape leading to the road to help fellow officers. He also used tarps, he said, to protect items of interest in the investigation.
“There was a shallow depression underneath branches and what looked like a flannel blanket which had been exposed to the elements over a number of years,” he said.
A fourth witness, Judy William’s cousin, testified the couple stayed in her home for about four months in 2004 with their youngest son Bradley. On the stand she said Williams, who was very quiet, was hard to talk to and she recalled details about Bradley’s relationship with his stepfather.
“Bradley wasn’t allowed to associate with anyone. Bradley had to remain quiet at all times, that’s what I observed,” she said. Bradley stayed in her sons’ bedroom.
The case is being heard before judge alone in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George and it is expected to continue into next week. Adam died in January 2000 but his death was not reported to police until October 2004. At the time, he was living with Cook and Judy Elaina Williams.