Bail decision for Christina Noudga on Friday August 8

Update: Bail was granted on Friday August 8 and set at $100,000. Noudga is under house arrest and must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. She can leave her parents’ Etobicoke home to go to school or work. Otherwise, she can only go out in the company of her mother or father, who are acting as her sureties.


Although I missed the first morning, I attended all three days of the Christina Noudga bail hearing held last week at Hamilton’s John Sopinka courthouse.  A standard publication ban prevents me and all the other journalists in attendance from reporting on the evidence disclosed in the courtroom as well as some other details related to the hearing.

Given these strict limitations, things like Noudga’s outfit got a seemingly inordinate amount of coverage. For the record and on the off chance you haven’t read this already, she wore a white fitted, sleeveless blouse with black collar, skinny black jeans, brown ankle boots and shackles. She doesn’t look nearly as good in person as does in the ubiquitous internet photos of her, but four months in jail likely haven’t done much for her appearance.

Christina Noudga with Dellen Millard

Noudga’s former Facebook profile photo was an interesting choice. It showed her boyfriend Millard’s face but not hers.

Noudga’s family and friends showed up to support the accused, who marked her 22nd birthday in jail, and is pleading not guilty to acting as an accessory after the fact in the murder of Tim Bosma. Noudga began dating Millard in 2011 shortly after he broke off his engagement to another Toronto woman.

She appeared confident and in control throughout the hearing and did not shy away from looking around the courtroom. (Noudga was arrested on April 10th of this year almost a year after charges of first degree murder were laid against her boyfriend, Dellen Millard, and his buddy, Mark Smich in the death of Tim Bosma.)

Also in the courtroom were Detective Sergeant Matt Kavanagh of the Hamilton police homicide unit, who headed up the investigation into Tim Bosma’s murder. He was almost always seated with one to three other police officers at the back of the room.

Ravin Pillay, part of the legal team defending Dellen Millard, attended all three days of the hearing, usually in the company of one or two young lawyers or law students.

Tim Bosma’s father Hank was present on the first day but did not return for days two and three. Tim’s widow Sharlene did not attend at the request of the crown. Bosma family friends were present on all three days along with representatives from victim services.

Justice Thomas Lofchik’s ruling on whether or not to grant bail will come down next Friday August 8th at 10 a.m.

Direct indictment in Tim Bosma case: What happens next?

I was in Hamilton court last Friday to see the accused, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, make their first video appearances since the Attorney General approved a direct indictment for the Tim Bosma murder trial. Millard’s appearance was sort of interesting because he was on camera for quite a bit longer than usual although I didn’t get as good a look at him as I usually do in Toronto court due to the fact the video screen was at about a 75 degree angle to me.

Sometimes at these sessions, where prisoner after prisoner comes up for a quick case update, I’m surprised by how polite everyone is. “Yes Your Honour.” “No Your Worship.” “Thank you very much.” One time I was sitting with a TV producer who’s spent decades covering courts and crime. He turned to me and said wistfully: “If only they could be this polite before they’re in prison.”

But I digress. My point was that in Hamilton on Friday, a few of the prisoners were really, unusually rude so Millard looked polite in comparison. He went out of his way to call the Judge, “Your Worship,” which was a mistake as a judge is “Your Honour” and a justice of the peace is “Your Worship.” Still, the point is he was trying to come across as he knew you should. Smich, in contrast, was monosyllabic and dispensed with the honourifics altogether.

After Justice James Turnbull told Millard that the 515 order, preventing him from communicating with a list of potential witnesses, was still in effect, he added that he could speak to his counsel if he had further questions. “I will do that,” Millard replied with an air of authority. Then, when he was told his appearance was over, he said, “Good day.”

I’ve noticed Millard has a tendency to use anachronistic expressions — good day instead of goodbye, for example — which I suspect is his way of trying to sound erudite. Both he and his lawyer seem to be pushing the educated intellectual story line. From the very beginning, Deepak Paradkar has described his client as “a bit of a philosopher.”

Millard told the Toronto Star he was reading not John Grisham but the 19th century classic, On War by Carl von Clausewitz. In that same interview, he also said that he had dropped out of Toronto French School before getting his high school diploma because “there were only a couple of teachers I found interesting,” which is, in my opinion, another way of saying he was too smart for those losers.

For someone who’s spent a lot of the past year in solitary confinement, Millard sounded much more chipper Friday than the last few times I’ve seen him via video in Toronto courts, where he looked terrible. Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty.

Outside the court room, before the session, the Bosma family gathered, laughing and smiling. It might sound incongruous if you weren’t there, but it wasn’t. They were simply happy that the direct indictment had been granted earlier that week and, as always, they were there to represent the family member taken from them and to make their presence felt.

Tim’s widow, Sharlene, joined them later in the court room, watching both the accused from the corner of her eye. No one in the family talked to the press.

 

A judicial pre-trial date was set for September 9 and a video remand date for September 19. The judge said he hoped by then, counsel would be able to set dates for pre-trial motions and, possibly, the trial itself.

The court sessions scheduled for August 7 for Millard and Smich have been cancelled although Millard’s girlfriend Christina Noudga, who has been charged as an accessory to murder after the fact, is still set to show up via video on that day. She remains in jail and has not yet applied for bail.

The direct indictment does away with the preliminary hearing so in theory it should speed things up, but in practice that’s not necessarily the case. Pre-trial motions could slow everything down to a crawl. We’ll have to wait until September to get a better idea of which way things are going to go.

Meanwhile in Toronto, proceedings continue in the Laura Babcock and Wayne Millard murder cases. Both Millard and Smich are charged with killing Laura Babcock while Millard is also charged with the murder of his father, Wayne. The accused have pleaded not guilty to all charges. They will appear again by video on August 11.

Dellen Millard in court today on charges he murdered his father

Dellen Millard will make a brief procedural appearance by video in Toronto court today to speak to the charges that he murdered his father, Wayne.  There’s unlikely to be any real news, maybe just a tidbit or two about whether the Crown has yet provided any disclosure.

Last time, I was at court for this and the Laura Babcock murder charges, the defence attorneys were grumbling politely that they were still completely in the dark about what the evidence for the new charges was.

Millard and his co-accused have pleaded not guilty to all the first degree murder charges against them. Both are charged with killing Tim Bosma and Laura Babcock while Millard alone is charged with murdering his father. Millard’s girlfriend Christina Noudga is also charged as an accessory after the fact in the Bosma murder. She too has pleaded not guilty.

Last week, Matthew Ward-Jackson, one of three men accused of weapons trafficking and believed to have provided Millard with the gun used to kill his father, appeared in Toronto court by video on two sets of charges. This appearance allowed me to confirm his ID and tie him to his active social media accounts. Ward-Jackson will be back in court next week in person.

On Thursday of this week, MIllard, Smich and Noudga will all make procedural appearances in Hamilton court. Noudga has still not applied for bail and it will be interesting to see if her lawyers will reveal any new information about her intent. She’s now been in jail for more than two months.

Update: I did not attend this court appearance and it doesn’t look like any other reporters showed up. Dellen Millard will return to deal with the Wayne Millard charge by video on July 7. Both he and Smich will also appear on the Laura Babcock murder charge on the same day.

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Matthew Ward-Jackson: Believed to have sold Dellen Millard the gun used to kill his father, Wayne Millard

Matthew Ward-Jackson

Matthew Ward-Jackson, not as he appeared in Toronto court via video earlier today

Full story tomorrow. Here’s some background in the meantime.

Update June 10: My story is now up at the National Post. The first two paragraphs are below and here’s another photo of Matthew Ward-Jackson.

Do you see the man with the blacked-out eye in the top righthand corner?

Do you see the man with the blacked-out eye in the top lefthand corner?

The active social media life of a man believed to have sold a gun to accused triple murderer Dellen Millard has added another layer of mystery to what was already a bizarre case.

Matthew Ward-Jackson, charged with weapons trafficking in April, has almost no web presence  under his own name. Instead, the 27-year old with a tattooed face and body uses  the online aliases @Krucifix14, Krucifix North and @BIGiisho to document his life as an aspiring gangsta-style rapper. Instagram photos, YouTube videos and Facebook posts show him pouring champagne over women’s thong-clad backsides, literally throwing money around, driving classic cars and, more incongruously, taking bubble baths in a heart-shaped red tub.

Read the whole thing at the Post.

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Murder or suicide: The investigation into the death of Wayne Millard

The Toronto Star had a great article yesterday on the disappearance and death of Laura Babcock, and how the police conducted or failed to conduct their initial investigations. The case was handled by 22 Division, which also looked into the sudden death of Wayne Millard, another investigation which, in my opinion, raises serious questions and which I wrote about in April. That death in November 2012 was originally deemed a suicide, but some of the new facts that have come to light make it hard to understand just how this could have happened and why Wayne Millard’s body was released for cremation so quickly. Let me elaborate:

  1. The Toronto Sun reported more than a year ago that Wayne Millard was shot in the eye. This is, to say the least, unusual. (And given that this info. was leaked to the Sun by a police officer, it would seem to indicate that someone in the force wasn’t happy with the initial investigation.)
  2. Wayne Millard is alleged to have been killed with a trafficked gun. This info. was originally reported by the Hamilton Spectator and then backed up further by a report in the Toronto Star. How on earth did the original investigators miss this?
  3. A source who was on the scene at the Millard family home the night police investigated the death, said that those present included Dellen Millard, his mother and Wayne’s ex-wife, Madeleine Burns, and Dellen Millard’s ex-fiancee, who cannot be named due to a publication ban. As far as I can tell, these are the only people police initially questioned about Wayne Millard’s death. They did not talk to anyone at the multi-million dollar business he had just launched nor do they appear to have spoken to others with whom Wayne Millard had regular, even daily, dealings.
  4. Mark Smich had been living in the basement of the Etobicoke house Wayne and Dellen shared before Wayne’s death. It’s not clear whether police were aware of this or talked to Smich.
  5. Wayne’s family members were not told the cause of his death. A cousin and his aunt were not even notified he had died.

As much as there are many unanswered questions about the investigation into Laura Babcock’s disappearance, there are also questions about the Wayne Millard death, which need to be answered as well.

Dellen Millard, who has been charged with his father’s death, is pleading not guilty and none of the charges against him have been proven in court.

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