Tim Bosma trial witness: 'I was hoping beyond hope it wasn't the truck'

Court hears from a witness who led police to the Millard Air Hanger where he had seen the truck he thought was Tim Bosma's and also from a man who had an encounter with two men looking to buy his truck — which was just like Bosma's.

Court hears from a Millard Air worker who thought he recognized the Bosma truck in his workplace

Arthur Jennings told a Hamilton court Thursday that he took this photo of Tim Bosma's truck inside the Millard Air hangar after Bosma's disappearance. (Arthur Jennings/Court exhibit)

When Arthur Jennings walked into his work co-op at Millard Air at the Waterloo, Ont., airport on May 8, 2013, he instantly thought he recognized the black Dodge truck sitting on the hangar floor.

Oh my God, could that be the truck?- Arthur Jennings

He had seen one just like it on the news the night before, connected with Tim Bosma — the missing Ancaster, Ont., man whose family was frantically searching for him. 

Jennings thought he recognized the truck's stainless steel running board.

"My exact words to myself were, 'Oh my God, could that be the truck?'" Jennings testified in Ontario Superior Court in Hamilton on Thursday, at the jury trial of the two men accused of killing Bosma.

Dellen Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., are charged with first-degree murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.

"I kept looking at that truck and thinking of that poor man and hoping [Millard] hasn't gotten himself into something," said Jennings.

The Crown alleges that Bosma was abducted and shot at close range inside his truck, while his body was incinerated hours later at Millard's airplane hangar in Waterloo.

Jennings's testimony was followed by the revelation that Smich and another man went on a test drive of a different Dodge truck much like Bosma's, just one day before he vanished.

But while the truck was similar, the owner was not. That truck belonged to Igor Tumanenko — a former member of the Israeli army, who testified about his test drive encounter with the two men.

Recorded VIN number

Jennings told the court that he was working at the Millard Air hangar for a college work placement in 2013, which his son-in-law had arranged for him.

When he first saw the truck, the seats inside had been stripped, and there were no plates on it. He was told that Millard had bought the truck from a dealer in the Kitchener area, Jennings testified.

On May 9, Jennings came back to work, took pictures of the truck and its VIN number and called Crime Stoppers. 

Jennings was on a co-op work placement in the Millard Air hangar around the time Tim Bosma disappeared, he testified in court Thursday. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The woman on the other end of the line took the last six digits of the truck's VIN number and asked him to call back in half an hour to 45 minutes. Jennings spent that time frantically pacing and chain-smoking cigarettes, he testified.

"I was hoping beyond hope it wasn't the truck," he said.

Jennings called back and again spoke with the woman from Crime Stoppers.

She said it was Bosma's truck.

Truck out in the open, court hears

"I was in shock," Jennings said from the witness box. "I went outside to my truck and I vomited. I was upset for everybody — for [Millard], for [my son-in-law] Shane, for my family, for everyone."

"I knew at that time that that truck in the hangar sitting on that green tarp belonged to Tim Bosma."

By Friday morning, Jennings said, the truck was gone from the hangar, along with a trailer that was used to move around cars.

In cross-examination, Millard's lawyer Ravin Pillay stressed that the truck was out in the open.

"There was no attempt in your mind to conceal it, correct?" Pillay asked, and Jennings agreed.

Smich's lawyer Thomas Dungey also cross-examined Jennings, and focused on a particular part of his testimony— that Smich and his girlfriend were sometimes at the hangar working for Millard. 

Dungey asked if Millard seemed to be "in control" in those situations. 

"Mark did what [Millard] wanted him to do," he responded.

Smich went on test drive with Israeli soldier

For the first time Thursday, court also heard firm evidence that put Smich inside a Dodge truck for a test drive around the same time Bosma disappeared. It was on May 5, when Smich and another man went on a test drive in the Dodge truck being sold by Tumanenko. 

According to an agreed statement of fact read out in court, Smich was in the back of the truck. Tumanenko testified in court Thursday that at one point in the test drive, he was in the passenger seat, while another man was driving and Smich was in the back. 

Tim Bosma of Ancaster, Ont. vanished in 2013 after trying to sell his truck online. (Facebook)

The third man has not been identified. Tumanenko picked Smich out of a police photo lineup on May 13, 2013, court heard.

Tumanenko said that during the test drive, he and the man behind the wheel discussed the truck's layout, suspension and the engine.

"I told him I was familiar with this engine from Israeli army experience," Tumanenko said.

Then, Smich (who until this point had been "quiet as a fish," Tumanenko testified) asked what he did in the Israeli army.

"I said, 'You don't want to know what I did there,'" Tumanenko said.

'Ambition' tattoo 

Then there was a "change in the dynamic" inside the car, said Tumanenko, in a thick eastern European accent.

After his quip about the army, the tall man who was driving turned to the back to look at Smich for a couple of seconds. The driver also suddenly seemed uncomfortable, and moving around in his seat, Tumanenko testified.

Millard's lawyer Nadir Sachak pressed Tumanenko on that statement. He told the court that Tumanenko never mentioned the "temperature changing in the car" in his original statement to police.

"There's nothing else you say in that statement about how the tall guy behaved once that statement was made," Sachak said. "The first time that has been mentioned is today in the presence of these 14 men and women."

It was while being interviewed by police, court heard, that Tumanenko divulged a key part of the description that led investigators to Millard: a tattoo of the word "ambition" on his wrist.

"For my personal opinion, it's very ambitious to have ambition on your arm," he said.

Two reliable police sources in Toronto and Peel, court heard Wednesday, told local police that Millard had an "ambition" tattoo.