Tim Bosma's family sues killers Dellen Millard and Mark Smich for millions

Almost a year before the criminal trial against Tim Bosma's killers even began, the Hamilton man's family launched a civil lawsuit against Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, seeking millions of dollars in damages.

'It's not about the money,' widow Sharlene Bosma says

Tim Bosma, 32, vanished after going on a test drive with his killers, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich. Bosma's family is suing Millard and Smich, as well as Millard's mother Madeleine Burns, and his former girlfriend, Christina Noudga. (Facebook)

Almost a year before the criminal trial against Tim Bosma's killers even began, the Hamilton man's family launched a civil lawsuit against Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, seeking millions of dollars in damages.

In a $14-million lawsuit filed in London, Ont., Superior Court in May 2015, the family claims that Bosma's death was caused "solely as a result of the horrendous, malicious, arbitrary and reprehensible conduct" of Millard, Smich, and their cohorts.

The lawsuit, which had not been public knowledge until now, also names Millard's mother, Madeleine Burns, and his former girlfriend, Christina Noudga, as defendants.

Tim Bosma, 32, vanished in May 2013 after taking Millard and Smich on a test drive of a truck he was trying to sell. What police believed to be his charred remains were later found on a farm owned by Millard in Ayr, Ont.

"For me, it's not about the money, it never has been," Bosma's widow Sharlene said in a statement provided to CBC News.

"I want another court to find them responsible for the actions that they took."

Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Smich, 28, of Oakville, were both found guilty of first-degree murder in Superior Court in Hamilton in June. Both men were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, or at least until 2038.

Both men are appealing their convictions.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are named as Bosma's widow, his young daughter (who is named as "Jane Doe" to protect her privacy), and Bosma's parents, Hank and Mary.

Sharlene Bosma and her daughter are seeking $5 million each in general and special damages, while Bosma's parents are seeking $500,000 each. The family is also seeking $3 million in aggravated and punitive damages.

Millard says he is 'not to blame'

In a statement of defence filed on Nov. 6, 2015, before he went on trial, Millard claims that he is "not to blame" in Bosma's death and that the family is being "re-victimized by a flawed police investigation."

"They are being wrongly incited to hate, and to blame me for their loss. However, I am not to blame," he wrote. "The allegations and accusations in their statement of claim are of course hurtful, and the huge sums of money sought mark vengefulness, but they are without foundation.

Dellen Millard, right, and Mark Smich, left, were both convicted of first-degree murder in June. (Court exhibit)

"I submit that this action should be dismissed. Despite this attack, I still feel the utmost empathy for the family. God bless the Bosmas."

Smich's response, by contrast, simply says that he is "unable to attend to this matter due to my current incarceration for criminal proceedings."

"I do not have the materials or resources to attend to a civil matter on my own while incarcerated," he wrote.

No statements of defence for Noudga or Burns have been filed with the London court.

Criminal conviction can come into play in civil trial

Neil Jones, a Hamilton lawyer who has worked on hundreds of criminal and civil trials, told CBC News that it's not uncommon to have a civil case alongside a criminal one.

Jones has no personal knowledge of the Bosma case, but said in general, a criminal conviction can come into play in a civil lawsuit, even though they are separate proceedings.

"The fact of a criminal conviction can be evidence in the civil case that the killing did happen," Jones said. But, he added, that doesn't mean that a criminal conviction will automatically turn into a win for the plaintiff.

Millard's wealth was a matter of much contention during the trial. The defence repeatedly attempted to portray Millard as wealthy, while the Crown countered by saying he was property rich but cash poor.

Public records show that on the day after Millard was arrested in May 2013, he signed over power of attorney to his mother. He also transferred ownership of three of his residential properties to his mother.

Millard's land transfers 'unlawful,' lawsuit alleges

In the lawsuit, the Bosma family claims these transfers were "unlawful."

"The plaintiffs further claim that the transfer of properties by the defendant, Millard, in the days following his arrest to the defendant, Burns, was a fraudulent conveyance aimed at protecting his assets from creditors."

Jones said that sometimes in civil trials the judge enacts the "fraudulent conveyances act."

"If someone conveys property to avoid a civil judgment … a court may reverse such a transfer," he said.

None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have been tested in court.

Sharlene Bosma makes a statement in front of the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton after Dellen Millard and Mark Smich were convicted by a jury on June 17. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Millard and Smich are also facing first-degree murder charges in the death of Toronto woman Laura Babcock, who vanished in July 2012. That trial is set to begin in early 2017.

Millard's girlfriend, Noudga, is facing a charge of accessory after the fact in the Bosma case. Her trial is set to begin in November.

Millard has also been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his father, Wayne. His shooting death in November 2012 was originally ruled a suicide.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.