A packed Toronto courtroom erupted into cheers and a standing ovation Monday after the judge announced two men convicted of murdering a young woman would not be eligible for parole for 50 years.
Dellen Millard is “profoundly amoral and dangerous” while his partner in crime, Mark Smich, “enthusiastically” participated in the murder of Laura Babcock, 23, whose body was never found, Justice Michael Code said.
Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, were convicted in December of murdering the Toronto woman in the summer of 2012 and burning her body in an animal incinerator.
“Justice has been served to the murderers of our cherished daughter, Laura,” Clayton Babcock, the victim’s father, told reporters outside court. “Somehow life in prison seems lenient when Laura didn’t even get to see her 24th birthday.”
Millard and Smich had previously been convicted in the murder of Tim Bosma, a 32-year-old Hamilton father who went missing in May 2013 after going on a test drive with two men interested in buying his pickup truck. That murder trial in 2016 heard the pair burned Bosma’s body in an animal incinerator — called the Eliminator — that belonged to Millard.
“This repetition of two planned and deliberate murders also arguably requires separate punishment to deter potential serial murderers who are thinking of going on to commit a second murder after successfully committing a first murder,” Code told the sentencing hearing Monday as he ordered the life sentences in the two murder cases be served consecutively.
“Millard unsuccessfully attempted to prove that there is a good side to his personality,” Code said. “In my view, Millard is skillful and clever in delivering pro-social behaviour when it is to his advantage. The overwhelming weight of evidence from text messages to his criminal behaviour is that he is profoundly amoral and dangerous.”
Smich, the judge said, was just as culpable.
“I am satisfied he was pleased and enthusiastic to be a part of the murder,” Code said.
First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
The Babcock trial heard the young woman struggled with mental health and drug use, and was working as an escort in the months leading up to her disappearance in July 2012.
Babcock had become infatuated with Millard and had also become transient, bouncing from place to place after deciding to move out of her parent’s home in Toronto’s west end.
By early July, she and Millard had texted or called each other more than 100 times over three days until Millard picked Babcock up from a subway station and took her back to his house on July 3.
The trial heard Millard and Smich burned Babcock’s body in The Eliminator — located at Millard’s hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport — days after she went missing.
That was the first time the two friends used the incinerator to burn a body.
Ten months later, the pair shot and killed Bosma and got rid of this body by also burning it in the incinerator.
The Crown in the Babcock case concluded the true motive for her death was to satisfy the pair’s urge to kill.
“They killed Ms. Babcock and Mr. Bosma for the thrill they needed,” Crown attorney Jill Cameron said at the sentencing hearing.
The eyes of both Millard and Smich welled up as they were handcuffed and led out of court.
But Babcock’s father said he had no sympathy for his daughter’s killers.
“We must admit that it was satisfying to see the two cuffed and shuffling off to the prison shuttle, to a life that for most of us would be unbearable,” Clayton Babcock said.