THE PARENTS OF LAURA BABCOCK SHOULD HAVE BEEN CELEBRATING HER 29TH BIRTHDAY ON MONDAY; INSTEAD THEY SPOKE OF LOSS AND FEELINGS OF HATRED AT THE SENTENCING HEARING FOR THE MEN WHO KILLED HER.
Sentencing on birthday for victim Babcock
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...