Sen­tenc­ing on birthday for vic­tim Bab­cock

Ottawa Citizen - - NP - AdriaN HumpHreys

Mon­day should have been a joy­ous day for Laura Bab­cock’s par­ents and her brother — a day of cake and gifts, pink and sparkles like she al­ways loved — to cel­e­brate her 29th birthday; in­stead they were of­fer­ing a heart­break­ing ac­count of loss at the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing for the two men who mur­dered her.

In a fluke of tim­ing, the court’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing to decide how long Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich should spend in prison was sched­uled on the vic­tim’s birthday.

In emo­tional vic­tim im­pact state­ments read aloud in a packed Toronto court­room at the sen­tenc­ing for the two men, con­victed at sep­a­rate tri­als of killing Bab­cock, 23, of Toronto, and Tim Bosma, 32, of Hamil­ton, and burn­ing their bod­ies in a large an­i­mal in­cin­er­a­tor, Bab­cock’s fam­ily ex­pressed their grief and anger.

“Our lives are over­whelmed with sad­ness,” Bab­cock’s fa­ther, Clay­ton, mother Linda and brother Brent said in a collective state­ment to the judge.

“So much joy and laugh­ter has been taken away from our lives.”

“To have her mur­dered in such a cold, cal­cu­lated way is be­yond ra­tio­nal thought. The anger that we feel to­wards you con­victed men pales against the grief and sad­ness that con­sumes us.”

Wit­ness­ing a crim­i­nal trial for the first time re­veals many things — about the law, foren­sic tech­niques, the rules of ev­i­dence — and, for the Bab­cocks, it taught them to hate.

“We al­ways taught our chil­dren not to use the word hate. We felt the emo­tion was too hor­ri­ble and de­struc­tive, but now, un­for­tu­nately, you men have made us hate. We hate what has hap­pened to our fam­ily. You have bro­ken our hearts and our lives.

“We hate you for taking Laura’s life away from her. She should be laugh­ing, danc­ing and en­joy­ing life.”

As Jill Cameron, lead pros­e­cu­tor at Bab­cock’s mur­der trial, read the state­ment to Jus­tice Michael Code, she be­trayed the heavy emo­tion be­hind the words, chok­ing up as she read.

The two mur­ders and high-pro­file tri­als gal­va­nized the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion for the hor­rific ev­i­dence and seem­ing mean­ing­less­ness.

Mil­lard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., pleaded not guilty at both tri­als.

Mil­lard still faces a third charge of mur­der in the death of his fa­ther, from whom he in­her­ited the fam­ily’s avi­a­tion dy­nasty, Mil­lar­dair.

Bab­cock was an on-again, off-again girl­friend of Mil­lard’s who ir­ri­tated Mil­lard’s cur­rent girl­friend at the time Bab­cock went miss­ing in 2012. A year later, Bosma went on a test drive of his truck he was sell­ing on­line with the pair and was shot soon af­ter leav­ing his home near Hamil­ton. Mem­bers of Bosma’s fam­ily also at­tended court on Mon­day.

Court heard ev­i­dence both vic­tims were in­cin­er­ated in a large de­vice called The Elim­i­na­tor, a ma­chine meant for cre­mat­ing dead live­stock. Pho­tos of the scene were found on com­put­ers of the two men and shown in court, adding to the fam­ily’s hor­ror.

“Few par­ents will ever have to see tro­phy pic­tures of their beloved daugh­ter’s re­mains be­ing cremated,” the Bab­cocks said. “These images will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”

They said if Bosma had not been mur­dered and his killers caught, the fate of their daugh­ter, who was re­ported miss­ing, might never have been known.

“We would prob­a­bly still be ag­o­niz­ing over what had be­come of Laura.”

Both mur­ders drew first­de­gree mur­der con­vic­tions for the men, which by law re­quires a life sen­tence with­out pos­si­bil­ity of pa­role for at least 25 years. The hear­ing, how­ever, is to de­ter­mine whether the two sen­tences are to be served con­cur­rently or con­sec­u­tively — mak­ing the dif­fer­ence of a shot at pa­role af­ter 25 years or 50.

The pos­si­bil­ity of con­sec­u­tive sen­tences was added to the Crim­i­nal Code in 2011 specif­i­cally for cases of mul­ti­ple mur­der­ers.

The Crown is ar­gu­ing for con­sec­u­tive sen­tences.

“These tragic crimes defy ex­pla­na­tion,” Cameron said, calling the pair “self­ish preda­tors who de­lighted in mur­der­ing in­no­cent peo­ple …. for the thrill they needed.

“Jus­tice for Laura de­mands a sep­a­rate penalty for her mur­der. Oth­er­wise they may as well have got­ten away with it,” she said.

Af­ter de­liv­er­ing their guilty ver­dicts in the Bab­cock case in De­cem­ber, ju­rors were polled on their rec­om­men­da­tion: all 12 ju­rors rec­om­mended con­sec­u­tive sen­tences for Mil­lard; five rec­om­mended con­sec­u­tive for Smich.

Mil­lard’s lawyer, Ravin Pil­lay, ar­gued against con­sec­u­tive sen­tences.

Mil­lard would be 77 in 2063 when he would first be al­lowed to ap­ply for pa­role if the sen­tences are con­cur­rent. Pil­lay ar­gued such a pun­ish­ment is overly puni­tive.

“It casts away the prospect of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. There must be an in­cen­tive to the of­fender to re­pair, to cor­rect, to re­ha­bil­i­tate,” Pil­lay said. He ar­gued that the judge should not take the Bosma ev­i­dence into ac­count at sen­tenc­ing for Bab­cock’s mur­der be­cause Code was not the judge at the ear­lier trial.

Thomas Dungey, lawyer for Smich, also op­posed con­sec­u­tive sen­tenc­ing, ar­gu­ing it didn’t have to be all or noth­ing — there could be an ad­di­tional pa­role in­el­i­gi­bil­ity tacked on to 25 years with­out it tal­ly­ing 50.

He asked the judge not to “throw away the key.” He ar­gued Smich was not a prin­ci­pal party to the mur­ders, act­ing as a sup­port player for Mil­lard hav­ing a “cult of per­son­al­ity.


Linda Bab­cock, bot­tom right, sits be­hind de­fen­dants Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich in this court­room sketch from their sen­tenc­ing hear­ing in Toronto on Mon­day. On the court screen are pho­tos of the two vic­tims, Linda’s daugh­ter Laura Bab­cock, and Tim...

Linda Bab­cock

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