National Post (Latest Edition)

Father found love before death, Millard trial told

- Christie Blatchford in Toronto National Post cblatchfor­

He was a self-described recluse with a drinking problem that embarrasse­d him and a fledgling business on the go and all the pressures those things entailed, but Wayne Millard nonetheles­s appeared to have found late-in-life happiness.

Shortly before he was allegedly murdered by his only son, the 71-year-old had reconnecte­d with a former teenage sweetheart, Janet Campbell.

“He said he loved me, that he adored me,” Campbell told Ontario Superior Court Judge Maureen Forestell Thursday as Dellen Millard’s third murder trial began in a Toronto courtroom.

The elder Millard, who owned and ran Millardair, an aviation company he was transformi­ng into a maintenanc­e repair overhaul facility, was ostensibly discovered dead in bed by Dellen at his home in Etobicoke, Ont., on Nov. 29, 2012.

He had suffered a single gunshot wound to his left eye.

Though the death was initially deemed suspicious, it was quickly ruled a suicide.

Only months later, when Dellen Millard was under investigat­ion for two unrelated deaths — he and his friend, Mark Smich, were subsequent­ly convicted of the murders of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma — did Toronto Police take a second look at the death of the father.

Millard, now 32, was later charged with first-degree murder. He is pleading not guilty.

Campbell and Wayne Millard were actually cousins, but as she had been adopted, not related by blood. They knew one another as children — Campbell’s adoptive father and Millard’s mother were siblings — from family gatherings, briefly dated as teenagers, but then lost touch for decades.

In February of 2012, Campbell said, they reconnecte­d over a shared interest in the genealogy of their family. Wayne was long divorced.

At first, she said, they simply talked over email, but soon graduated to phone calls, where they “talked about all kinds of things, as you do with your friends.”

Pretty soon, Wayne was calling her three or four times a day, Campbell said, and then that November, they met in person. He proudly showed her around the new hangar he had built at Waterloo Regional Airport for his business.

He had serious back problems, she said, and at the hangar used a motorized scooter that had once belonged to his father to get around. Like most men, she said, Wayne didn’t take very good care of himself, and he was overweight and didn’t exercise.

And though she never saw him drink, there were times during their hours-long conversati­ons that she could tell he’d been drinking. He was completely forthright about his problem, she said. “He was not proud of that in any way,” she told the judge, “but he wasn’t a sad person either.”

As Campbell later told Millard’s lawyer, Ravin Pillay, in cross-examinatio­n, she could still see in the 71-year-old man “the person I knew as a young person, let me put it that way.”

And when she saw him, she would take his blood pressure (though she isn’t and wasn’t a medical profession­al), and she said with a bit of pride, “it was normal.”

They saw one another in person only three times, Campbell said, the last time just before his death.

“He asked if he could stay over,” she said, “and I said yes.”

Though he was private and not at all a social animal, and she didn’t pry, he seemed to have little difficulty telling her things, even about his business issues. For instance, he’d taken out loans to get the repair facility up and running, and once remarked that his father, Carl, would never have taken out a loan.

She reminded him that “it was a different era,” and that the world had changed, and he shouldn’t feel badly about it.

Wayne was excited, too, about her impending birthday: “He was coming to my place. He was planning a cake. He had purchased a gift for me,” she said. “He was more excited about my birthday than I was.”

(The gift, which she learned about only at the wake after his death, turned out to be flying lessons. He told her she wouldn’t be happy about it at first, but that she would come to like it and “we’d have fun.”)

She rejected the defence lawyer’s suggestion­s that Wayne was depressed and even her own words to police, when she told a Toronto detective that he had been, and that “the business was sucking the life right out of him.”

She was still searching herself for an explanatio­n for his apparent suicide, Campbell said, and meant only that “if he had taken his own life, it (the difficulty with the new business) was the only thing” she could imagine. In fact, she said, Wayne was never clinically depressed, but depressed only in the ordinary sense, “when things don’t go your way.”

On the evening of Nov. 28, they talked on the phone into the wee hours. Wayne was a night owl, and most chatty then, and she was a good listener, so they spoke for several hours, “as usual.” They “talked about everything,” as usual.

But when she hadn’t heard from him later that day, and she couldn’t reach him, she got worried, really distressed.

She remembered then that she had Dellen’s email, though she’d never met him. She sent him a note. Then she sent another. “He told me his father was dead, it would appear by his own hand.

“I was stunned. I was totally, absolutely stunned.”

The wake was in early December, and Janet Campbell went. She met Dellen Millard for the first time. They chatted briefly.

She remembered that at one point, she said to him, “Am I at all what you thought I’d be?” And Dellen replied, “I never thought about it.”

 ?? ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD / THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? In this artist’s sketch, Dellen Millard, left, appears in court in Toronto on Thursday for his judge-only trial.
ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD / THE CANADIAN PRESS In this artist’s sketch, Dellen Millard, left, appears in court in Toronto on Thursday for his judge-only trial.

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