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Accused’s lawyer suggests to dead teen’s mother they had a poor relationship

Ibrahim Ali denies murdering the girl who was found dead in Burnaby’s Central Park early in July 2017
The mother of a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby park in 2017 says her “heart was bleeding” when her daughter went missing and was later found dead. Media wait outside B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday June 2, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A lawyer for a man accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby, B.C., park six years ago has suggested to the girl’s mother that they had a poor relationship, to the point where the teen didn’t want to be around her.

Ibrahim Ali’s lawyer Kevin McCullough also suggested to the woman that she didn’t think her daughter was “stable” or “rational.”

But the Chinese mother pushed back at the trial in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, saying her daughter “mostly” listened to her, and she didn’t understand what the lawyer meant by stable and rational.

She acknowledged that in a statement to police before her daughter was found dead she told officers the girl “doesn’t really communicate with me” but told the jury that’s not the same as having no communication.

The woman, who can’t be identified because of a publication ban protecting the identity of her daughter, was testifying for a third day.

Ali denies murdering the girl, who was found dead in Burnaby’s Central Park early in July 2017, hours after the mother reported her missing.

McCullough began his cross-examination Friday afternoon by apologizing to the woman and acknowledging that some of his questions were going to be “difficult.”

McCullough went on to suggest that the girl would often go to Central Park in the year before her body was found and that she didn’t like to spend time with her mother.

He suggested that the mother was preparing to quit her job because the relationship with her daughter had deteriorated so badly.

But the mother said the only reason she was considering leaving her job was if she couldn’t get time off to take her daughter on a trip.

She told the jury about a trip skating together the week before her daughter died and a visit to Joffre Lakes Park days before her death.

“She wanted to be with her mom,” she said.

The cross-examination is expected to continue on Monday.

Earlier Friday the woman testified that her “heart was bleeding” when she found out that her daughter had died.

She described searching for the girl at a nearby library and at the entrance to Central Park.

The mother told the jury she thought she had to wait 24 hours to report her daughter missing because those are the rules in China.

But a friend told her that in Canada she should report her daughter missing right away.

She says she gave a recorded statement to police and was later told her daughter’s body had been found in the early hours of July 19.

“It was the darkest day for me,” she said.

Crown attorney Isobel Keeley said in an opening statement that the court would hear evidence showing the murder was random, but DNA results would prove Ali sexually assaulted the girl.

She said the evidence would show the girl was passing through a neighbourhood park when she was dragged off a pathway into the forest by Ali, sexually assaulted and strangled.

The defence has not yet told the jury its theory of events.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press