CALGARY — A Calgary police officer says he smelled a strong odour of gasoline or solvent before he and a colleague found the bodies of a mother and daughter in a shallow grave southwest of the city two years ago.
Const. Malcolm May was testifying Wednesday at the second-degree murder trial of Robert Leeming in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Leeming pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the death of Jasmine Lovett, the girl’s mother, but not guilty in the girl’s death.
Lovett and her daughter went missing in April 2019, two weeks before she turned 26, and weeks later Leeming told undercover officers the location of their bodies.
They were found on May 6, 2019, near Grizzly Creek, a day-use area in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary.
May testified the bodies were wrapped in blankets and had blue plastic bags wrapped around their heads.
“We opened the blanket up to check to see what was inside and we discovered the body of a young child wrapped within this blanket and bag,” he said.
“We could see the dark hair, the right ear, the right side of the face, we could see the closed right eye and the top of the nose.”
May said the body of an adult female was found moments later.
“We saw that there was an actual body of a deceased person here, a blue plastic bag wrapped around the head,” May said.
“Her eye is swollen. There’s blood on her face. It looks like the left cheek is also swollen.”
May said he did a forensic investigation of Leeming’s Mercedes-Benz car but didn’t find much other than a blanket in the trunk that was similar to those Lovett and Sanderson were wrapped in.
“I found it surprisingly clean for the time of the year,” he said.
Leeming, 36, is a British citizen and told police that he and Lovett had been in a relationship.
Court heard earlier this week that Lovett and Leeming met on a dating app in September 2018. She and her daughter moved in a month later and Lovett and Leeming lived as “boyfriend and girlfriend” even though Lovett paid him expenses and rent.
Leeming and his two victims attended a family gathering just two days before the Crown believes they were murdered.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press