By Jennifer Pagliaro and Robert Cribb, Toronto Star
The Attorney General’s office has signed off on the rare request made by the Crown’s office last month for a direct indictment, which allows the case to skip a preliminary trial.
“A direct indictment in this case is most unfortunate,” said Dellen Millard’s Toronto lawyer, Ravin Pillay, who is co-counsel with Deepak Paradkar.
“The preliminary inquiry, which an accused is entitled to in almost all serious cases, is an opportunity for a judge to screen charges to determine whether they should go to trial. A preliminary inquiry is also critical for the defence to discover the Crown’s case.”
Calling the move “extraordinary,” Pillay said the legal procedure is shrouded in secrecy and “significantly impedes” Millard’s ability to mount “a full and complete defence to a serious criminal charge.”
“The accused is not provided with the submissions made by the Crown to the Attorney General for the direct indictment. The accused is also not provided with the reasons cited by the Attorney General for issuing the direct indictment. There is also no means by which the accused is able to appeal the decision.”
A trial could be held as early as next year, although a source close to the case told The Hamilton Spectator it is highly unlikely it will happen that quickly. Although the court has said it is prepared to start the trial in early 2015, the source says defence counsel will almost certainly ask for more time to prepare.
The preliminary hearing was to begin in September, but now judicial pretrial dates with Justice James Turnbull will be set for that month, the source says.
Millard, 28, was arrested in May of last year after Bosma’s badly burned remains were found on his Ayr farm property. Mark Smich, 26, a friend of Millard’s, was arrested days later. Both are charged with first-degree murder.
Bosma’s wife Sharlene, through spokesperson Peter Lowe, said in a short statement Tuesday night, “We are pleased that the next step has been taken, and that things are still moving forward.”
The Ministry of the Attorney General said they would not confirm indictments in specific cases, but confirmed the matter is scheduled in the Superior Court of Justice in Hamilton on Friday. Millard and Smich, who are both still in custody, are expected to appear by video.
“The Crown will make its position on this matter known in court at the appropriate time,” spokesperson Heather Visser said in an email.
In a remarkable move that speaks to the profile and complexity of the case, three assistant Crown attorneys have been assigned to prosecute Smich and Millard: Tony Leitch, Craig Fraser and Brett Moodie.
All three are currently on vacation, although one will attend court Friday to speak to the indictment when it is officially lodged, The Spec has learned. The paperwork is to be couriered to the Hamilton courthouse from the attorney general’s office on Wednesday.
Thomas Dungey, Smich’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.
Bosma was reported missing after two men reportedly arrived to his Ancaster home wanting to test drive the Dodge Ram pickup he had posted for sale online. Bosma never returned home. His truck was later recovered by police inside a trailer parked on the front driveway of Millard’s mother’s home in Kleinberg.
Then in April of this year, Millard was charged with the murder of his father, Wayne Millard, who was previously believed to have killed himself in November 2012.
And more than two years after Etobicoke woman Laura Babcock disappeared without any word to family and friends in July 2012, Millard — who had a brief fling with Babcock — was also charged with her murder. Police refuse to say whether they have recovered Babcock’s remains as her parents hold out hope she may still be alive.
Millard’s girlfriend Christina Noudga was charged as an accessory to murder after the fact in Bosma’s death for allegedly helping Millard to “escape,” court documents show. Her case was not part of the request to move directly to trial.
The three murder cases, now overseen by the OPP, are still being treated separately as Crown attorneys work out the preliminary motions in each.
Since Bosma’s family launched a grassroots campaign to search for the missing man, each twist in the case has captivated an international audience and a trial is expected to garner much media attention