A Toronto man who stood to inherit a multimillion-dollar aviation company was found guilty of first-degree murder in his father’s death Monday, a ruling that marked his third such conviction.
Applause broke out as a judge declared Dellen Millard had carried out a planned and deliberate killing of his father, whose death was initially ruled a suicide.
Wayne Millard, a wealthy 71-year-old businessman, was found dead in his bed with a bullet lodged in his brain on Nov. 29, 2012. His son had pleaded not guilty in the death but the judge hearing the case found otherwise.
“I am satisfied that Dellen Millard killed his father by shooting him in the left eye as he slept,” said Justice Maureen Forestell. “I can find no theory consistent with innocence.”
Millard, 33, cried softly as the decision was read out to a packed courtroom.
Among those who had gathered for the ruling in the judge-alone trial were the parents of Millard’s two other victims, Toronto woman Laura Babcock and Hamilton man Tim Bosma. Babcock’s father said all three families would be forever linked as a result of Millard’s crimes.
“It’s been proven that not only has the Bosmas and ourselves have lost a loved one, the Millard family must live with the fact this heinous individual murdered his own father,” Clayton Babcock said outside court. “There’ll be not a day in our lives when the loss of Laura, Tim or Wayne won’t be felt.”
Crown attorney Ken Lockhart said he was grateful for the outcome of the case.
“I hope that the process has brought (the families) some kind of closure,” he said.
Wayne Millard’s death was Dellen Millard’s second murder.
He had killed Babcock, a 24-year-old woman he had been seeing, months earlier in July 2012. Six months after his father’s death, Millard killed Bosma after taking the 32-year-old man’s truck for a test drive.
Millard’s friend, Mark Smich, was also convicted of first-degree murder for the Babcock and Bosma slayings. The pair are serving life in prison with no chance for parole for 50 years for those murders.
Police re-opened the case of Wayne Millard’s death after arresting the younger Millard for Bosma’s killing.
The latest trial unfolded in June without a jury. The Attorney General granted a defence request for a judge-alone proceeding after agreeing that Millard’s notoriety, given the Bosma and Babcock murders, would make it impossible to find fair jurors.
Prosecutors alleged Millard killed his father because millions in potential inheritance money was being squandered on a new aviation business.
Forestell rejected significant parts of the Crown’s case, including the motive for money, saying it played no role in her decision. Instead, she found the case turned on a lie Millard told investigators after his father’s death.
The trial heard Millard told police he found his father dead in bed around 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2012. He said he last saw his father alive around noon the day before and had then stayed the night at Smich’s house. But phone records indicated that one of Millard’s phones moved from Smich’s house around 1 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2012, to his father’s home where it stayed until shortly after 6 a.m.
“I do not believe the statement of Dellen Millard that he stayed at Mark’s,” Forestell said. “I find it was fabricated to conceal he was involved in the death of his father.”
Forestell also said Millard created a false alibi after leaving his truck, credit card and his other phone at Smich’s house.
The trial also heard that Dellen Millard, who did not testify in his own defence, bought a handgun found next to his father’s body from a weapons dealer — evidence Forestell accepted. Dellen Millard’s DNA was on the gun.
The defence argued Wayne Millard’s death was a suicide.
Dellen Millard told police his father was depressed, an alcoholic and under a tremendous amount of stress because of his efforts to turn around the family’s aviation business, court heard.
“He carried some great sadness with him throughout life that I never knew — he never wanted to share that with me,” Dellen Millard told police in an interview played in court.
Wayne Millard had inherited the family aviation business, Millardair, from his father, Carl Millard, in 2006. It had been launched as a cargo carrier in 1963 and later flew passengers before going bankrupt in 1990, court heard.
The company then rented out aircraft hangars at Toronto’s Pearson airport until 2010, when Wayne Millard moved into the maintenance, repair and overhaul business and built a massive, multi-million dollar hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport by 2012.
The trial heard that Dellen Millard blamed his father for the company’s financial issues.
“The last time I spoke to him, I told him the company’s financial troubles were his doing and that he was a failure,” Millard wrote in a text to his girlfriend that was presented in court. “Usually he tells me not to worry. But this time he said maybe I was right.”
Days after his father’s death, Dellen Millard fired everyone at Millardair and wound the business down, court heard.
A sentencing hearing for Millard is scheduled for Nov. 16. The Crown said it will seek an additional 25 years of parole ineligibility for Millard in his father’s death.
Liam Casey , The Canadian Press