'You thought she was disposable': Prosecutor grills Bradley Barton on witness stand

Bradley Barton has been relentlessly cross-examined for three days by Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon about details surrounding the June 2011 death of Cindy Gladue.

Warning: This article includes graphic and disturbing details

Bradley Barton and Cindy Gladue are captured on surveillance camera leaving his hotel room on the first of two nights they spent together. (Yellowhead Inn/Court exhibit)

The man who hired Cindy Gladue to have sex with him almost a decade ago was accused Thursday of treating her like a piece of property, something that could be discarded without a second thought.

During his third day under cross-examination, Bradley Barton faced a relentless prosecutor who has tried, question by question, to cast doubt on his version of what happened that night.

"You thought you were buying her like a piece of property," Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon told Barton, who is on trial for manslaughter. "You thought she was disposable."

Barton, 52, has been on the witness stand for the past four days. 

"Your trial evidence is, for the most part, entirely fabrication," Snowdon said to him Thursday. "It is another one of your detailed lies."

Barton has told the jury that Gladue agreed to have sex with him on two nights in June 2011, while he was staying at the Yellowhead Inn in west Edmonton. He said he agreed to pay her $60 both nights, but reneged the second night after she began to bleed. 

Gladue, 36, died from blood loss caused by an 11-centimetre wound to her vaginal wall. Her naked body was found in a blood-soaked bathtub in Barton's hotel room.

On the second night they were together, Barton told the jury, he inserted his fist into her vagina and kept in there for 10 minutes. When he withdrew his hand, he said, his fingers were covered in blood.

Barton testified he went into the bathroom to wash his hand and brush his teeth, then returned to the semi-dark bedroom and sat on the bed while Gladue went into the washroom. He said he fell asleep and found her in the bathroom the next morning. 

"Mr. Barton, I suggest to you that the events that you described are preposterous," Snowdon said. "The reason why they sound so preposterous is because they are untrue."

Snowdon challenged Barton's version of events, at times using forensic evidence that was gathered by police. 

Barton said Gladue was sitting on the bottom corner of the bed when they were engaged in sexual activity. Snowdon pointed to a blood stain on a blanket near the centre of the bed, and said there was no blood in the area where he said Gladue was sitting. 

Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon used this exhibit photo of blood on a blanket to challenge Bradley Barton's version of events. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit)

"In reality she was lying on the middle of the bed," Snowdon said. "She was nearly passed out or very drunk and you forced your knuckles into her vagina." 

The jury has been told Gladue's blood-alcohol content was four times the legal limit at the time of her death.

Snowdon suggested the young woman was vulnerable and unable to consent to rough sex, and noted that Barton went ahead without seeking her verbal consent. 

"You saw an opportunity," she said. "You decided to experiment with things you'd been googling on the internet ... because you were interested in ripped and torn vaginas.

"Her vagina tore and she started bleeding. She started bleeding right where she was, in the middle of the bed." 

Snowdon suggested Barton picked her up in the comforter and carried her to the bathtub. 

Prosecutor Julie Snowdon suggested the lack of blood on the hotel room floor did not fit with the accused's version of events. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit)

"That's how the bloodstains got on the end of the comforter," she said. "You dumped her in the bathtub. That's why there is almost no blood between the bed and the bathroom." 

Barton denied Snowdon's theory about what happened. 

'You didn't pay her because you killed her' 

He has suggested that Gladue showed little reaction when he told her he would not pay her for sex on the second night.

Snowdon challenged that claim. 

"When you are pretending that you didn't pay her and nevertheless she was fine, that is a lie," Snowdon said. "In reality, you didn't pay her because you killed her." 

Barton testified earlier that he had hidden his wallet between the mattress and bed spring while Gladue wasn't looking. 

"This is a woman you didn't really trust to begin with," Snowdon said. "If you didn't trust her, why did you go to sleep while she was still in the room? Weren't you worried she was going to steal your stuff?" 

The accused said he simply dozed off.

Barton is facing a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2019.

Cindy Gladue in an undated photo posted on the Facebook site, In Loving Memory of Cindy Gladue. (In Loving Memory of Cindy Gladue/Facebook)


Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston