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In Brief

Local and National news

TRANS KILLER PLEADS GUILTY



A deported Californian has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2003 death of a local transgendered sex worker.



In a statement of facts presented to BC Supreme Court Mar 10, Jatin Patel admitted that he picked up Shelby Tracey Tom after being released from custody by US immigration officials, May 27, 2003. He’d just spent five years in a US jail.



Patel said he picked Tom up and brought her to a North Vancouver hotel, where they had sex. He said he was performing oral sex on her when he realized she was transgendered.



Enraged, he assaulted and killed her.



He placed her naked body in the closet and covered her with linen and clothing.



He then went out and met another woman, gave her $100 to buy some cocaine, and brought her back to the room. They, too, had sex. Then the woman found Tom’s body.



According to the statement of facts, Patel told the woman he didn’t mean to do it. “It was an accident,” he said. “I got angry because she misled me. She was a prostitute and, as we were about to have sex, I found out she was a man. I got angry, lunged at her throat and broke her esophagus. She died instantly.”



Patel then told the woman he was thinking of throwing Tom’s body in the ocean, or chopping it up, or burning it and disposing of it. The woman advised against it. Patel left Tom where she was.



Several days later, Patel removed Tom’s body from the closet, wrapped her up and left her in a shopping cart near the motel.



Patel was initially charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He will be sentenced in BC Supreme Court on Apr 15.



Tom was 40 years old.



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CENTRE GETS STEP CLOSER TO NEW HOME



Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson says The Centre at Bute and Davie will be eligible, under Vancouver’s new 2005 budget, for funding to study the feasibility of constructing a new home for itself. The Centre’s executive director Donna Wilson says she’s very excited and encouraged by the news. The study represents a good step forward, she says. The Centre’s current accommodations are inadequate for its space needs and are accessible only by a steep and narrow staircase. The city will need a very detailed proposal from The Centre before the study can proceed.



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GOOD NEWS FOR DAVIE CPC



The Davie Village Community Policing Centre (CPC) has secured a commitment for the $100,000 in core funding it wanted from the city, says CPC president Jim Deva.



Council approved the money to all city CPCs Mar 17, as part of Vancouver’s new 2005 budget. In order to access the funds, the Davie CPC must first get spending plan approval from Vancouver’s police board.



The city budget also allows $3 million in spending in 2005 for 50 new Vancouver police officers and 27 new civilian positions. It is hoped the extra officers will help to reduce response times to 911 calls, but it’s not clear until the officers are deployed exactly how the extra person-power will impact public safety.



City councillor Tim Stevenson says he’s happy about the increase, provided that at least 40 of the 50 new officers are deployed to beat patrols in the city.



Vancouver Police Department Insp Val Harrison says she is thrilled about the increase in person power and fully intends to take this opportunity to increase police visibility on the streets of district one (which includes the West End).



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KOOTENAYS YOUTH



Safe Spaces East Kootenays (SSEK) says its Celebration of Diversity Conference was a huge success. Fifty participants, including 28 queer youth, gathered at the Fort Steele Heritage Town near Cranbrook for a weekend of pizza, games, skill-building workshops and activities, Mar 18-20.



“There has never been anything like this in the East Kootenays,” says organizer Liana Eadie. “So we’re really happy to have brought it here.”



The SSEK program is an organization modelled around the National Safe Spaces Program. It provides support and resources to gay, lesbian, transgendered, two-spirited and questioning youth over 80,000 square kilometers of rural British Columbia. “Just seeing a poster with ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ on it in a public place is huge out here,” Eadie says. For more information call Safe Spaces East Kootenays at 250-417-5349