Update July 19, 2016: The discharge is quashed. Ward-Jackson will appear at the Toronto West courthouse on July 28th, where he will be ordered to stand trial.
I’m a little late here, but this is an interesting case that deserves to be followed. The Crown’s move to
appeal review came on September 9, almost one month to the day after Justice Di Zio threw out all the charges on August 10. When a case is discharged after a preliminary hearing, it means the judge believes there is no reasonable chance of a conviction at trial.
Those charges were: Possess Prohibited Firearm with Readily Accessible Ammunition, Possess Firearm Without a License and Registration, Possess Firearm Knowing that He Did Not Have a License or Registration, three counts of Possess Prohibited Device, Possess Prohibited Weapon in Breach of Prohibition Order, four counts of Fail to Comply with Recognizance, Possess Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, and Possess Proceeds of Crime.
The firearm in question was a headline-making AK-47.
Unfortunately for Ward-Jackson, despite the discharge from Justice Di Zio, he’s still in the new and newly notorious Toronto South super jail due to another set of charges he faces, allegedly selling guns to Dellen Millard.
There was a prelim for those charges at Old City Hall last month. It was very interesting but remains covered by a publication ban for now. The only thing I’m prepared to tell you is that one of the prosecutors, Jill Cameron, wore red-soled shoes on the first day. Hmm.
If you watch this video closely you’ll see not only the eponymous red shoes but also Joseph Michael Horth aka Spiken Mike taking a ride in a wheel rim. He pleaded guilty to the weapons-related charges back in January, telling the judge at his sentencing that he had found God.
He also testified at the prelim that a guy called John Low had given him the AK-47 as collateral for a small loan and that he had tried to destroy it with a hammer. When that failed he hid it in the crawl space under the house where he was living in Mississauga. Police raided the house and found the gun in January 2014.
Matthew Ward-Jackson is pleading not guilty to all charges against him.
Today I went to the Jane and Finch courthouse for the bail hearing of Matthew Ward-Jackson, charged, among other things, with selling Dellen Millard the gun allegedly used to kill his father, Wayne Millard.
The courthouse is located in the world’s worst strip mall, where the only food source is Swiss Chalet. You can’t get your nails done during the breaks or eat pho for lunch or buy a Somali cell phone, although there is a criminal law office and the court clerk told me about a great Caribbean buffet for $8 at Weston Rd.
Outside the courtroom, I ran into Ward-Jackson’s friend and occasional rapper, Rissy Riss, who asked me how my book was going. “It’s with my lawyer,” I told him. He nodded sympathetically. Lawyers.
Riss was with a blonde with a long braid, lots of eyeliner and mukluks. It seemed rude to ask if she was a Gotass Girl so I didn’t, but I think maybe she was. When we entered the courtroom, Riss and the blonde sat in the right back row with three other people who knew Ward-Jackson. In the left back row were the cops including Detective Mike Carbone from the infamous Laura Babcock and Wayne Millard press conference.
I have mixed feelings about that press conference. On the one hand, I feel like Carbone was sent on a suicide mission. He had just been assigned to the case and wasn’t responsible for the initial screw-ups. But, on the other hand, it was such a terrible press conference that I can’t really work up much sympathy for anyone involved.
There were two crown attorneys present because this was a joint bail hearing. Ward-Jackson has drugs and weapons charges stemming from a January drug raid in Mississauga and then the Millard-related weapons charges, which were laid in April. Jason Miller from Guns and Gangs was responsible for the January stuff and Laura Bird, who is in charge of the Laura Babcock and Wayne Millard murder cases, handled the April trafficking charges.
This is a good time to say that Ward-Jackson is pleading not guilty to all the charges against him and none of the allegations have been proven in court. His lawyer is Fariborz Davoudi, who had promised to tell me when the bail hearing was taking place, but didn’t. When he walked into the court and saw me, he was at a momentary loss for words. “Heeeeeeeeeeey,” he said, stalling for time. “You made it.” (Our last in-person meeting was back in June when I had showed him his client’s active social media life.)
The Justice of the Peace David Lippingwell imposed the standard publication ban at the request of the defence so I can’t tell you anything much else about what happened after that. I was the only reporter there.
At the break, Laura Bird and Mike Carbone went next door to see Dellen Millard and Mark Smich make their regular monthly video appearances. Smich looked his usual self, a little on the heavier side, but in decent shape with a buzz cut. Millard looked the worst I’ve ever seen him. He’s constantly changing his facial hair and, this time around, perhaps in Movember mode, he had a fu manchu moustache with the ends dangling down off his chin and greasy, chin-length hair. He’s gone native.
Millard also has a new attorney for the Laura Babcock and Wayne Millard murder charges. He is now being represented by Ravin Pillay, who has replaced Deepak Paradkar on those two cases. Pillay and Paradkar have been working together since early on and still are, but I wasn’t aware of this official change until today.
MIllard is pleading not guilty to both murder charges as well as the murder of Tim Bosma. Smich is also pleading not guilty to the murders of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma. Millard and the Crown have agreed to an in-chambers judicial pre-trial December 19, but it has to be confirmed with one of Smich’s lawyers. Millard and Smich will both be back November 19 to try and firm up that date.
After the video appearances, we returned to the Matthew Ward-Jackson bail hearing, which for reasons I cannot report, was cut suddenly short. Bail was denied.
It was all very surprising, but who doesn’t like to get Friday afternoon off?
It’s Friday September 12th at Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse. I’ve come to see Matthew Ward-Jackson aka Krucifix14 aka Big Iisho, who currently has three sets of charges pending against him, including having supplied Dellen Millard with the gun he allegedly used to kill his father Wayne. That’s the case I’m really interested in but it’s not the one on the dockets today. This session is about an earlier drug possession and intent-to-traffic case. (Ward-Jackson is pleading not guilty to all three sets of charges against him.)
Things were supposed to get underway at 10 a.m. but, because many judges operate in a parallel time universe, at 10:30 we were still all sitting around waiting for her honour to arrive. There was the accused, Matthew Ward-Jackson; the co-accused; the co-accused’s mother; the two defence lawyers, making (minimum) $300 an hour small talk; the wife and paralegal of one of the defence lawyers; the Crown; the court clerk; the court reporter; me; and the Toronto police constable guarding the prisoner and fixing her wonky chair.
When the door finally opened, we were all expecting the judge, but no, not yet. Instead it was a 50-something down-on-his-luck looking guy with long thinning brown hair, a leather Harley Davidson jacket, torn jeans, and some very well worn cowboy boots.
“Hey MJ,” he said to Ward-Jackson in the prisoner’s box.”How’re you doing? I put some money in the canteen for you. It’s only 20 bucks.”
“Thanks for coming,” Ward Jackson replied graciously. It was the second occasion I’ve seen him in person and he’s lost weight over the past two months. He’s also better dressed than he was last time, wearing what looks like a brand new Roots Maple Leafs jacket, a blue plaid shirt, dark wash jeans and navy sneaker-type shoes, all fresh and clean. He has enough hair growth on his shaven head that I can’t clearly make out the tattoos underneath, including the one I’d really like to see of the man with his eye blacked out.
MJ’s buddy sits down next to me while the police constable guarding the prisoner gives him the once over. “I know you,” she says. “You’re Butch. We went to high school together.”
Butch does a double take. “You’re the boxer,” he says. “You still box?”
Their conversation gets cut short as the judge finally makes her entrance. Apologetically, she tells us all she’d like to take care of the other case on her agenda, a brief sentencing, before hearing the further evidence in the Ward-Jackson case. She says it will take half an hour so we all clear out of the courtroom. By now, it’s almost 11.
I ask Butch if he has time to talk. And he tells me I can join him for his smoke break. On the courthouse steps, he explains that he was Ward-Jackson’s cellmate at the Toronto South Detention Center from the Canada Day long weekend until a few days ago when he was released. He was there for violating probation for an assault charge. He’d run into his lawyer in the courthouse halls earlier and she’d asked him what in hell he was doing here. Just showing support for a friend, he had explained much to her relief.
I told Butch I was interested in Ward-Jackson because of the gun trafficking charges related to the Millard case. “Whaaat?” he asked “Who?” I gave him a primer on Tim Bosma, Wayne Millard, Laura Babcock, etc. Butch only knew the vaguest of outlines. He said that prisoners don’t talk to each other about stuff like that.
He also emphasized that Matthew was a good guy, not dumb, and not guilty. That’s why he’d come to court to support him.
“At the very least he did some dumb things,” I suggested.
“Who hasn’t?” said Butch. “That’s why pencils have erasers.”
I kind of liked Butch. If you’ve got to have a cellmate, he seemed like just about the best you could have. Putting $20 in the canteen for MJ was a generous move.
We headed back inside and up to the courtroom where I spotted some familiar faces. There was a young blonde woman who looked like one of the Gotass Girls from Big Iisho’s various videos. And the guy with her was definitely Blanco Oro, a rapper and music producer.
“You’re Blanco Oro, right?” I said as I introduced myself. He looked simultaneously worried and disappointed. No doubt when he’d imagined people recognizing him from his videos, it was young fangirls not nosy reporters old enough to be his mother.
Like Butch, Blanco said he knew nothing Millard-related. He just wanted to see Matthew — who he described as an “up and coming artist” — get back to making music. I gave him my business card and a high five and sat down to wait for the judge. The sentencing was taking way longer than half an hour.
Butch was now talking to Blanco who had taken him aside to show him something on his phone. I assume it was my National Post article on Matthew Ward-Jackson and his ties to the Millard case because after that Butch stopped speaking to me. At noon when we eventually filed back in to the court room, no one wanted to sit beside me. Given that the kickboxing police woman was now chatting and joking with Ward-Jackson as she escorted him in and out, I felt it was unjust that I was the most feared and unpopular person in the room.
According to the dockets, we were there for a further evidence session, which began with the crown summing up the evidence against the accused. In a nutshell, some $50,000 worth of cocaine and $13,000 in in cash had been found in an apartment allegedly occupied by Ward-Jackson and his co-accused, who was his ex-GF. In my laywoman’s opinion, the crown made some good points but it was hardly an airtight case.
I was especially puzzled by the crown’s reference to marijuana supposedly found in the apartment between the mattresses.The crown said veteran drug squad officers recognized it as marijuana and not, for example, oregano, which would have been in the kitchen not the bedroom.
WTF?! I thought. This all seems very vague. Why didn’t they just test it? You don’t need to be CSI to tell oregano from marijuana. As it turned out, this was a subject the defence would later address although not the oregano angle.
Ward-Jackson’s lawyer for these charges is Deepak Paradkar, who is also Dellen Millard’s lawyer, defending him against all three charges of first degree murder. Along with wanting to talk to people who knew Ward-Jackson, Paradkar was the other reason I’d come to court. I wanted to see him in action.
As the crown wrapped up and we were about to break for lunch, he asked the judge if he could have two minutes. One of the points he raised was the marijuana issue. “If these officers are so veteran, why didn’t they seize it and inventory it?” he asked. “I have serious concerns.”
After lunch, both Paradkar and the co-accused’s lawyer made their case for a directed verdict. Paradkar is an impressive and forceful speaker, with a sarcastic streak when it comes to the cops. He was out to show the crown needed more proof his client had lived in the apartment where the cocaine was found. “Where is the lease, cable records, Bell records?” he asked. “Police college 101.”
“My friend,” he said, referring to the Crown, “emphasized that these were veteran officers, but that can be to their detriment.” Paradkar went on to cite a kidnapping case where 25-year veterans hadn’t followed the basic rules of evidence collection or performed what should be standard due diligence.
Amused, at one point, by his turn of phrase, I LOLled, which caused Butch to turn around and give me the stink eye. I wanted to explain I wasn’t laughing at his friend’s lawyer, I was laughing with him. But it was too late. I’d lost Butch.
As court wrapped up, Ward-Jackson thanked the judge for everything including her order that he receive a meal. Is he flirting with her? I wondered. Earlier, he’d called out cheekily to his co-accused as she walked by the prisoner’s box, plus there was all that chitchat with the kickboxing constable. Ward-Jackson appeared to think — not necessarily incorrectly — that he had a way with the ladies. Or maybe he was just genuinely grateful to be getting a non-prison meal. Butch had told me earlier that the food at Toronto South sucked and, as the old joke goes, there wasn’t enough of it.
The judge’s ruling is scheduled to be delivered on October 29 at 10 a.m. Ontario standard judge time. I promise to let you know what happens.
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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.
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.
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