TORONTO – A Toronto man killed his aviation executive father to access millions in inheritance, prosecutors alleged at the trial of the twice-convicted murderer on Monday, while the defence argued the death was a simple case of suicide.
The assertions were presented in closing arguments at the first-degree murder trial of Dellen Millard, 32, who has pleaded not guilty to killing his father, 71-year-old Wayne Millard.
The older Millard died on Nov. 29, 2012. Court has heard he was found with a bullet lodged in his brain after being shot through his left eye. The coroner and police initially concluded he died by suicide.
“Wayne Millard did not kill himself,” Crown lawyer Jill Cameron said. “Dellen Millard carried about a calculated plan to murder his father and cover it up.”
Wayne Millard had a $10-million plan to transform the family’s aviation business, Millardair, into a maintenance shop for passenger jets, the judge-alone trial heard. He told many people he was creating the business for his son.
“Wayne Millard was spending the family money creating a legacy for Dellen Millard that he didn’t want,” Cameron said.
Shortly after Wayne Millard died, his son — a co-owner of Millardair — fired all employees and returned a crucial license from the federal government to operate the company, the Crown said.
“(Dellen Millard) now had money, power, freedom and control,” Cameron said.
Dellen Millard’s defence lawyer argued, however, that Wayne Millard was depressed, an alcoholic and “drowning” underneath the stress of the business, echoing what his client told police shortly after his father died.
“There is an overwhelming body of evidence that points to suicide,” Ravin Pillay said.
“It was a suicide then, it is a suicide now.”
The Crown said Dellen Millard’s plan to murder his father crystallized on Nov. 1, 2012, when the family aviation business received a maintenance, repair and overhaul certificate from Transport Canada.
“The plan was hatched as soon as that licence came through for a business he didn’t want,” Cameron said. “Money was being funnelled out, his inheritance being spent.”
That’s the same day the younger Millard bought a second cellphone, the Crown said.
Court has heard that phone was used to call a cab from the home of Millard’s friend, Mark Smich, in Oakville, Ont., early on Nov. 29, 2012. Records show that phone was at the home Millard shared with his father at about 1 a.m. that day, and then back at Smich’s house at 6 a.m.
Pillay countered that there was no proof that Millard was travelling with that phone and that it wouldn’t make sense to use a phone that was still registered in his name, if this was, in fact, murder.
Millard left behind his main phone and a credit card so Smich and his girlfriend could buy pizza, the Crown alleged. Cameron said it was all a ruse to create a false alibi.
The coroner put Wayne Millard’s death between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., court heard.
The Crown said Wayne Millard was not suicidal, but hopeful for the future, and had made plans for the day after he had been found dead, as well as plans to teach his girlfriend how to fly.
“Everything was coming up Wayne,” Cameron said.
She also said Wayne Millard couldn’t have physically shot himself in the face because of his position in his bed, where he was found lying on his side with a revolver nearby.
Pillay said it’s impossible to reconstruct the moment of shooting with any certainty.
The judge-alone trial has heard Dellen Millard bought the revolver found next to his father’s body from a gun dealer, and that his DNA was found on the weapon.
Pillay said the DNA on the gun could have simply come from his client buying it.
Ultimately, Pillay concluded, suicide is a complex issue and, in this case, misunderstood by the Crown.
“With years of untreated depression compounded by decades of alcohol abuse, Wayne Millard was driven to a final impulsive act,” he said.
Wayne Millard’s entire life was devoted to his son, Pillay said. And when Dellen Millard told his father that he was a failure and the reason behind the company’s financial troubles, Wayne Millard broke down.
“That must have been very painful,” Pillay said.
Millard is currently serving two life sentences for the deaths of Toronto woman Laura Babcock and Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
The judge said she may have a verdict by July 19, but the decision may come in September due to her caseload.