Family 'learned to hate' after Laura Babcock was killed, sentencing hearing told

Thomas Dungey (Mark Smich's lawyer) (left to right), Ravin Pillay (Dellen Millard's lawyer), Justice Michael Code, Crown Attorney Jill Cameron, Dellen Millard, Mark Smich and Laura Babcock's mother, Linda are shown in this courtroom sketch from the sentencing hearing for Millard and Smich in Toronto, Monday, Feb.12, 2018. On the court screen are photos of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould

TORONTO - The family of Laura Babcock said they have learned to hate since finding out that their daughter was brutally killed and her body was burned in an animal incinerator.

Babcock's parents and her brother expressed their hatred and heartbreak in a victim impact statement read out Monday at a sentencing hearing for Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who were found guilty in December of first-degree murder.

"We hate you for taking Laura's life away from her," the family wrote. "She should be laughing, dancing and enjoying life."

At one point, Crown lawyer Jill Cameron, who was reading the statement, choked up.

"We now say that we have only one child so that we don't have to answer people's polite inquiries about our family," the Babcocks wrote.

Babcock's family said the woman's death has taken a heavy toll.

"We always taught our children not to use the word hate. It is too horrible and destructive, but you men have made us hate," said the Babcocks' victim impact statement. "We've learned to hate."

Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., were previously found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Hamilton man Tim Bosma, whose remains were burned in the same animal incinerator — called The Eliminator — they had used to get rid of Babcock's body.

Bosma's family and friends also attended Monday's sentencing hearing, which was taking place in a packed Toronto courtroom.

The jury in the Babcock case agreed with the Crown that the pair murdered the 23-year-old Toronto woman because she had become the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend at the time, Christina Noudga.

The trial heard Babcock struggled with her mental health and drug use in the months leading up to her disappearance in the summer of 2012. And she had become infatuated with Millard.

She moved out of her parents' home, bouncing from spot to spot, and ended up asking Millard for a place to stay in early July 2012. Millard had purchased the incinerator just days before Babcock vanished, and court heard that Babcock's body was burned in late July.

First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

The judge presiding over the Babcock case will decide, however, whether to impose consecutive or concurrent periods of parole ineligibility, a provision added by the federal government in 2011 to the Criminal Code for multiple murderers.

Crown prosecutors argued that Millard and Smich should serve consecutive sentences for the murders of Bosma and Babcock.

"These tragic crimes defy explanation," said Cameron, calling the pair "selfish predators" who delighted in murdering innocent people.

"They killed Ms. Babcock and Mr. Bosma for the thrill they needed."

Anything but consecutive sentences would offend the principles of justice, she said.

Millard's lawyer, Ravin Pillay, argued against the consecutive sentences, saying the judge couldn't weigh in on the Bosma case because it wasn't tried before him.

He also argued the punishment is overly punitive and takes away hope from an offender.

"It casts away the prospect of rehabilitation. There must be an incentive to the offender to repair, to correct, to rehabilitate," Pillay said.

At one point Justice Michael Code interrupted Pillay's argument.

"He's committed two extremely serious murders one right after the other," Code said. "He looks profoundly dangerous. Without some clear evidence of denunciation, doesn't his character argue for keeping him in as long as you can?"

Smich's lawyer, Tom Dungey, argued against the consecutive sentences of his client, saying Millard was the lead perpetrator in both cases and manipulated Smich.

He also told court Smich was bettering himself behind bars through education courses and working as a server in prison.

"The Smich before the court today and Smich arrested on May 22, 2013, is not the same man," Dungey said.

The judge said he'll reserve judgment until Feb. 26.

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