Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Queen's pilot to admit to murders

Col Russell Williams had commanded Canada's largest air force base (AP)

A pilot once selected to fly the Queen around Canada is set to admit murdering two women, sexually assaulting two others and a string of sex-related burglaries.

A lawyer for Colonel Russell Williams, who commanded the country's largest air force base until he was charged earlier this year, said he would plead guilty in a court hearing.

The case has shocked the country, hurt soldiers' morale and prompted fears that the commander of Canada's most high-profile military base and the man who once flew Canadian prime ministers could have been a serial killer.

In 2005, Williams was pictured with the Queen and Prince Philip on the front page of the newspaper of Canadian Forces Base Trenton after he had served as their pilot during a visit.

Williams waived his right to a preliminary hearing in August and was ordered to stand trial and return to court on Thursday.

The 47-year-old is charged with the first-degree murder of Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found in February, and Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal under his command who was found dead in her home last November. Both women were asphyxiated.

He is also charged with forcible confinement, breaking and entering and sexual assault after two other women were attacked during separate home invasions in the Tweed, Ontario area in September 2009.

"It's just bizarre. I've never seen anything like it," said retired Lieutenant-General Angus Watt, who once promoted Williams. "It was a shock to everybody because he was a high ranking officer in a leadership position, but the more we learned about it the more you realise this is the act of a single depraved individual and he does not represent an institutional failure at all by the military."

Williams worked under General Watt as a staff officer in charge of transport aircraft.

"He impressed everybody with his leadership and staff skills. He was a high performing individual," Gen Watt said. "Everybody is baffled. I've talked to some of his closest friends who flew transport aeroplanes with him and they had no, absolute no hint, no idea whatsoever."

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