BRACEBRIDGE - After Samantha Collins’ remains were found, it was up to accused killer Ian Charles Borbely to break the tragic news to their child, his lawyer suggested.
Ian Charles Borbely is led into the Bracebridge court house shortly after he was charged with the murder of Samantha Collins in this 2011 file photo. (Photo by Louis Tam)
Defence attorney Paul Cooper made the insinuation while cross-examining Nicole Fowlie-Smith, Collins’ younger sister, in a Bracebridge court earlier this week. Fowlie-Smith had phoned Borbely on July 8, 2010, the same day Collins’ dismembered remains were found at a Wood Lake cottage on Merrick Drive.
Collins, 29 at the time of her death, went missing in 2007. Borbely was arrested and charged in connection with her murder in 2011. Their child’s name is subject to a publication ban.
Last week, Fowlie-Smith had told the 12-person jury that Borbely reacted to the news of Collins’ remains by saying “Oh shit, I’m at work. I’ll call you back.”
“The kind of reaction you were expecting from Ian was to console you,” said Cooper.
“To acknowledge the fact that I just lost my sister,” Fowlie-Smith answered.
With Collins gone, Cooper suggested somebody had to tell the youngster why mom would never be returning home.
“And that was Ian,” he said.
“I don’t know who it was,” Fowlie-Smith responded.
She broke down into tears when asked to reminisce further about her phone conversation with Borbely.
“I was thinking about how I’d never see my sister,” she said.
Last week, Fowlie-Smith had testified that she embarked on a two-year Internet search for Borbely following her sister’s disappearance, eventually finding Borbely on Facebook in 2009 to ask him about her sister’s whereabouts.
Cooper, however, questioned whether Fowlie-Smith explored other means of finding Borbely between the time of Collins’ disappearance and the discovery of her remains. He said that during Collins’ pregnancy, she had briefly lived with her sister, Borbely and Borbely’s parents at a Bracebridge address.
“Why didn’t you just phone the Borbelys?” Cooper asked. “You didn’t even try, did you?”
Cooper argued that Fowlie-Smith did try other means of finding Borbely after Collins disappeared. He referred to a 2011 family court affidavit, in which he quoted Fowlie-Smith as saying that she had made “repeated efforts” to find Borbely through methods like Canada 4-1-1.
In court, Fowlie-Smith said she made efforts to call Borbely’s family after finding him on Facebook.
In a prior police statement, Fowlie-Smith had told officers that Collins had come in and out of her life periodically, and that her sister had a “rough upbringing.” In court, she said there was friction when Collins lived briefly with Borbely’s parents.
In particular, Fowlie-Smith said Collins felt the mother-in-law got a little too involved when it came to caring for her child after she gave birth.
“She did say she was overbearing,” said Fowlie-Smith.
The court also cross-examined two of Borbely’s former classmates, one of who bought a bag of clothes from him after Collins had – according to Borbely – walked out of his life.
Jason Brian Conlon, who has known Borbely since they were classmates at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, said he had visited Borbely around two or three times at Borbely’s Wellington Street home. He said he had fuzzy recollections of a woman and child at that address.
Meeting up with Borbely after Collins had left that home, Conlon said Borbely appeared depressed. He said Borbely asked him if he wanted to buy a bag full of women’s clothing, which included T-shirts, pants and a few sweaters. Conlon told Crown attorney Douglas Kasko that he decided to buy the clothing because they looked like they would fit his girlfriend.
Borbely, Conlon said, asked for $100 for the bag.
“I think I haggled him down a little bit,” he said.
Conlon said he ended up paying around $80 to $90.
“Do you know whether or not the clothing fit your girlfriend?” Kasko asked.
“Oh, yes,” Conlon said.
Kasko asked Conlon if he ever questioned Borbely why the clothes were for sale. Conlon replied said Borbely told him Collins had left him, but didn’t question the issue much further.
Raymon Barnes, a Gravenhurst resident who has known Borbely for 21 years, also testified that they had taken shop class together at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School.
He said he had previously helped Borbely and Collins move from an apartment on Alexandra Street in Bracebridge to the address on Wellington Street.
After Collins left Borbely’s life, Barnes said he helped Borbely move a number of household items from the Wellington Street home to the home of Borbely’s parents, and also to a storage unit in Gravenhurst. In prior years, Barnes said Borbely had contacted him using Collins’ cellphone a number of times.
“If he didn’t have time on his, he’d use hers,” he said.
James Woodruff, who owned the storage complex where Borbely rented a unit, was also called to the witness stand. He unveiled records showing that Borbely fell behind on rent payments soon after becoming a tenant in June 2007.
By August of that year, Woodruff’s records show Borbely was $190 in arrears, though he managed to trim the debt down to $75 by November.
Woodruff confirmed the testimony of an earlier witness, 48-year-old Mark Hill, who said he had transferred tenancy of the unit to Borbely because he had problems paying the rent himself. Hill had previously testified that he was confronted by Borbely after making romantic advances on Collins, but that he later ended up becoming friends with Borbely.
Usually, Woodruff said tenants would clear out the contents of a unit before a new tenant took over.
“It was an unusual circumstance,” Woodruff said of Hill’s unit transfer to Borbely.
The trial continues next week. For updates see this paper and cottagecountrynow.ca.