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Dellen Millard’s privileged, fantasy-land life revealed at Bosma trial

Adrian Humphreys, National Post

Dellen Millard, right, with Shane Schlatman in the background. (Facebook photo)

Dellen Millard, right, with Shane Schlatman in the background. (Facebook photo)

HAMILTON, Ont. — The privileged, reckless, controlling, fantasy-land life of Dellen Millard was revealed Monday in dramatic fashion at the murder trial of the heir to a storied aviation dynasty.

The portrait came through the eyes of Shane Schlatman, one of Millard’s friends and his longest-term employee, who was on the witness stand facing a hammering of a cross examination on his relationship with Millard and his own lack of curiosity about odd or suspicious activity at Millard’s aviation company.

If the portrayal of Millard seemed unflattering, however, that did not appear to be Schlatman’s intent. He seemed reluctant to speak ill of his former boss, a position bluntly noted by Thomas Dungey, lawyer for Millard’s co-accused, Mark Smich.

“I suggest you’re out and out lying,” Dungey said at one point in a blizzard of questions that saw both witness and lawyer growing increasingly red-faced. Schlatman said he was not.

Facebook; Court exhibits
Dellen Millard, top right and Mark Smich are on trial for the murder of Tim Bosma, left. (Facebook; Court exhibits)

Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Smich, 28, of Oakville, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the killing of Tim Bosma, 32, of Hamilton, who vanished May 6, 2013, after leaving with two strangers on a test drive of a pickup truck he was selling online.

After days of panicked searching, police announced they found Bosma’s charred remains in an incinerator on Millard’s farm.

Schlatman considered Millard a friend. He invited him to his wedding; he relied on him for his well-paying job as a mechanic at an airport despite not touching airplanes; and he admitted lying to police about Millard shortly after his boss’s arrest.

“He has no fear,” Schlatman said of Millard.

He drove so recklessly Schlatman wouldn’t get into a car with him: “I did once and said I’d never do it again,” he said.

“Crazy, carefree,” Schlatman described Millard. “He could go off and do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.

“He’s the guy with the money. If he wanted something he goes and buys it,” he said. “When he broke something, I would fix it.”

And he could be controlling, the jury heard.

Schlatman said he learned not to question his boss because if he did Millard grew upset and angry.

“All through your relationship, you don’t question him, you just do what he says?” asked Dungey. “Yes, sir,” said Schlatman.

That included working on vehicles that turned up unexpectedly at the hangar that are now being investigated as stolen property, including a Bobcat loader that Schlatman was told to remove the GPS tracker from, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a trailer.

Dungey accused him of turning a blind eye to it all.

Facebook; Court exhibits
Shane Schlatman was Dellen Millard's right-hand man at Millardair's Waterloo hangar. (Court exhibit)

“I didn’t ask,” said Schlatman. “My understanding is that they were stolen,” he said about later learning of a police probe.

Dungey lampooned Millard for his plan to turn his ramshackle farm west of Hamilton into a suite of dream homes, one for Millard and another for Schlatman.

“It’s a fantasy, isn’t it?” Dungey asked.

“Yes, sir,” said Schlatman.

“It’s an utter and complete fantasy of Dellen Millard’s because nothing is ever done about it,” said Dungey.

“Nothing was ever done,” Schlatman conceded.

Millard bought a $60,000 excavator, ostensibly to dig the foundations of the houses but instead raced it haphazardly through the wooded trails of the farm, getting it mired in a swamp and blowing its engine.

Millard took Schlatman with him to Baja, Mexico, for three weeks, while on his company’s payroll, to be a mechanic during Millard’s rugged off-road, desert race.

It too was a disaster. Just 15 miles into the anticipated 500-mile race Millard wrecked his souped-up Jeep.

“It was a tree that some how came up and took out the engine,” Schlatman said, eliciting chuckles from court spectators.

Usually looking alternately confident or bored as he watches his trial, Millard uncharacteristically looked irritated during the cross examination of Schlatman.

But it was on the issue of what Schlatman saw and did when Bosma’s pickup truck suddenly showed up inside Millard’s hangar, while Bosma was still missing, that drew Dungey’s ire.

When Schlatman saw the truck, stripped of its interior, in the hangar, Dungey asked if he quizzed his boss about what was going on.

“I only asked, ‘What do you want to do with it?’ ” he said.

Dungey found it hard to believe Schlatman knew nothing about the high-profile search for Bosma and his truck while it dominated the news.

“You’re just in a vacuum all on your own on [May] 6th, 7th and 8th? That’s what you’re telling this jury?” he asked.

Schlatman said it was.

And when Schlatman was told by his father-in-law, Arthur Jennings, who also worked at the hangar, that he had confirmed through Crime Stoppers the truck was Bosma’s, Schlatman didn’t call police.

He said he assumed they already knew.

“Why don’t you do your duty and call the police?” Dungey bellowed.

“I spoke with Dell. He said he’d done nothing wrong. He was my friend and I believed him,” Schlatman answered. “At that time, sir, common sense wasn’t my strong suit. Everything was a blur.”

And when the truck vanished from the hangar once Millard was told Jennings and Schlatman knew of its history, he still didn’t alert police, court heard.

“Maybe I didn’t do everything exactly the way I should have,” Schlatman began to say in explanation.

“Oh, Mr. Schlatman,” Dungey interjected, “you didn’t do anything. Anything.”

A man was missing and he saw no urgency to help, asked Dungey.

“I’ve made mistakes before and I’ll make them again,” said Schlatman.

“So your loyalty is so great (to Millard) that the hell with Bosma,” roared Dungey. “That’s not it at all,” Schlatman said quietly.

The jury also heard evidence from Jennifer Plath, a firearms expert with the Centre for Forensic Sciences.

Plath studied photos of a gun found on Millard’s and Smich’s computers as well as a spent shell casing found inside Bosma’s blood-stained pickup truck.

She said the photos show a Walther PPK .380 semi-automatic handgun, but without her actually examining the physical gun, she could not say whether it was an operational gun or an air gun or other type of replica device.

Plath said that if the gun was real and operational, it was capable of firing the size and type of ammunition the shell case came from, a .380 Winchester.

The gun is relatively small, about six-inches long. It is famed as being the pistol used by James Bond, the fictional secret agent.

She said shell casings are automatically ejected from the right side of the gun after each firing but could not say how far the shell casings fly upon ejection or the angle of which it travels.

At issue in the trial is where the bullet or bullets that killed Bosma came from. The Crown alleges that Bosma was killed inside his truck shortly after leaving on the test drive.

Witnesses describe a man who looked like Millard getting into the driver’s seat and a man who looked like Smich getting in the back seat. Bosma sat in the front passenger’s seat. The front passenger’s window was broken when the truck was recovered by police inside Millard’s trailer parked in the driveway of the home of Millard’s mother.



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