Christina Noudga has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge for her role in covering up evidence in the murder of Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
Months after she first testified at the Bosma trial, Dellen Millard's ex-girlfriend appeared in Ontario Superior Court in Hamilton today in what was to be the start of her trial on being an accessory after the fact.
Instead, the 24-year-old Toronto woman entered a guilty plea on a reduced charge of obstructing justice by destroying evidence.
- Wayward Son: The full story of Tim Bosma's murder
- Tim Bosma's family supports prospective Christina Noudga plea deal
The guilty plea on lesser charges avoids what had been set as a three-week trial. She will be credited for time served before trial, with consideration for two years of house arrest. Noudga will have a criminal record and has to give a DNA sample, but will not serve any additional time.
Assistant Crown attorney Brett Moodie told court the guilty plea was an appropriate resolution, as it spares Bosma's family from hearing the "soul-destroying" details of his death again.
"There has been a great deal of pain for Tim Bosma's family," he said.
'You learn in life, that when you keep company with bad people, and these people were beyond that, they were evil, bad things happen.'
- Justice Toni Skarica
Bosma's parents, Hank and Mary Bosma, were in court, surrounded by other family members. Bosma's widow, Sharlene, was not there.
As details of the case were read into the record, members of the family shook their heads and some wiped away tears.
Still, assistant Crown attorney Craig Fraser said the family is "relieved it has been resolved in this way," noting the Crown, the defence, the family and the police investigators who worked on the case all supported the decision.
In an agreed statement of facts (which can be viewed here), the Crown noted there was no direct evidence that when Noudga was assisting Millard, she knew that he had killed Bosma.
Had the Crown moved ahead with the initial charge instead of the plea, it would have been tasked with proving Noudga's head space beyond a reasonable doubt.
In that respect, the Crown's case was "circumstantial," Fraser said.
'Positive prospects,' lawyer says
Bosma vanished in May 2013 after he went on a test drive of the truck he was trying to sell with aviation heir Millard and aspiring rapper Mark Smich. What is believed to be his burned remains were found in an animal incinerator on Millard's Ayr, Ont., farm.
Millard and Smich were found guilty in June of first-degree murder.
In discussing sentencing, defence lawyer Brian Greenspan told court it needs to be emphasized that Noudga had admitted helping Millard at the time of her arrest.
He stressed she had no knowledge of the murder.
"There are positive prospects for her future," Greenspan said, so it was time to "close this chapter." He said Noudga plans to move forward with her education in the health-care field.
Greenspan also pointed out that Noudga became involved with Millard when she was 18. He was 25, and "older and controlling, in many ways," Greenspan said.
Justice Toni Skarica, in accepting the deal, said Noudga's guilty plea is a "significant mitigating factor," as it keeps Bosma's family from reliving the tragedy. He also said that it was unlikely the Crown would have secured a conviction on the original charge.
"You learn in life, that when you keep company with bad people, and these people were beyond that, they were evil, bad things happen," the judge said.
Noudga linked to evidence concerns
During the Millard and Smich trial, the jury heard that Noudga helped move the trailer that held Bosma's truck, as well as the incinerator in which his body was burned and the toolbox that is believed to have carried the murder weapon.
In her bedroom, police also found a digital video recorder that contained footage of Millard and Smich inside the MillardAir hangar on the night that Bosma died.
Noudga also wiped down the trailer in which Bosma's truck was eventually found, after her then boyfriend's arrest.
While in the witness box at the last trial, Noudga insisted she had no idea that any of her actions were connected with any wrongdoing. Her testimony from the last trial cannot be used against her in another trial, because of the Canada Evidence Act.
In Tuesday's agreed statement of facts, Noudga agreed that she had participated in those activities, but again, said it was done without knowing what Millard had done.
The obstructing justice charge, her lawyer noted, related specifically to wiping down the trailer after Millard's arrest.
Noudga looked more sombre during Tuesday's proceedings than she had during the Bosma trial, but chose not to address the court when given the opportunity.
CBC News reporter Adam Carter was in the courtroom Tuesday morning reporting live. You can read a recap of his live blog here. On mobile and can't see the blog? View it here.
The Fifth Estate has also been looking into this story. Be sure to watch The Murder of Tim Bosma in two weeks, on Friday December 2 at 9 p.m. on CBC TV. New witnesses, never-before-seen video and an investigation into the background of Dellen Millard.