Calgary·Updated

Calgary man took undercover police to bodies of girlfriend and her toddler, judge hears

Less than five hours after police launched an undercover operation targeting a man they believed killed a Calgary mother and her toddler, the suspected murderer led the officers to the two bodies buried in shallow graves in a wooded area in Kananaskis, according to prosecutor Doug Taylor.

Robert Leeming accused of murdering Jasmine Lovett, 25, and her daughter, Aliyah Sanderson

Robert Leeming, left, is on trial for two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Calgary mother Jasmine Lovett, right, and her toddler, Aliyah Sanderson. (Left, Julie Debeljak/CBC; right, Lovett family)

Less than five hours after police launched an undercover operation targeting a man they believed killed a Calgary mother and her toddler, the suspected murderer led the officers to the two bodies buried in shallow graves in a wooded area in Kananaskis Country, according to prosecutor Doug Taylor.

Robert Leeming was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, but before his trial got underway Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to killing Jasmine Lovett.

However, Leeming pleaded not guilty to the murder of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.

The bodies of the mother and daughter were found on May 6, 2019, weeks after their deaths, in a wooded area in Kananaskis Country, a large recreational area west of Calgary.

Lovett had been shot and had suffered blunt force head injuries, according to a forensic pathologist. Her daughter had also suffered blunt force trauma to her head.

The trial got underway with Taylor's opening statement, describing much of the case expected to be presented by the Crown.

In April 2019, Lovett and Leeming were in a relationship after having met on a dating app the year before. Lovett and her daughter lived with Leeming at his Cranston townhome and paid rent. 

While the pair were dating and living together, Leeming had begun seeing other women.

Lovett and her daughter missed a family dinner on April 19.

Robert Leeming told reporters in 2019 he owned the townhouse being searched by police, and was a roommate with Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter, Aliyah Sanderson. (CBC)

Operation Highwood

On April 23, Lovett's mother reported her daughter and granddaughter's disappearance to police. 

Two days later, Leeming was arrested for murder but police released him within 24 hours. 

In the meantime, Leeming gave drunken interviews to media outlets outside a local pub telling reporters police had the wrong man.

On May 5, the Calgary police priority crimes team launched Operation Highwood, with two undercover officers targeting Leeming. 

"Four and a half hours after it began, the accused led the undercover officers to the bodies of Jasmine and Aliyah," said Taylor.

The two had been buried in shallow graves under brush, branches and mulch, near Grizzly Creek off Highway 40 in Kananaskis, according to the Crown.

The trial is set to last four weeks.

The Crown's first witness will be Lovett's sister.

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