The cousin of a wealthy Toronto philanthropist who was gunned down in a parking garage has confessed to orchestrating the 66-year-old's murder.

Marshall Ross pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Glen Davis, admitting to a court on Wednesday that he enlisted the help of others to kill the local millionaire in May 2007.

The court heard that Ross decided to organize Davis' murder to resolve his outstanding financial problems.

"I cannot do anything to change the terrible thing that I have done… I cannot think of anything else to say to fill the black hole that I have created," Ross said in a statement issued Wednesday.

His plea wasn't made public until the Ontario Superior Court lifted a temporary publication ban on it Thursday.

Davis, a well known donor to various wildlife causes, was shot in an underground garage in Toronto's midtown area four years ago.

He had just finished having lunch with an associate at the World Wildlife Fund when he was killed beneath the building that houses the WWF offices on Eglinton Avenue near Mount Pleasant Road. The assailants shot him twice, once in the back and once through the heart.

Upon hearing Ross' guilty plea, Davis' widow Mary Alice described the murder as a "disgusting betrayal" of her trust.

"It is a terrible tragedy. Glen was taken away from us far too soon and he certainly did not deserve this," she said in a victim impact statement.

Though Ross was Davis' cousin, the court heard that the pair had an "uncle-nephew" relationship.

The familial relationship turned into a business one when Davis loaned Ross $2.5 million -- with a 1 per cent monthly interest charge -- to start up a real-estate business called Ross-Shire Enterprises.

Davis also provided Ross with rent-free office space at 9 Versailles Ct., a mansion which Davis used as an office.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Davis trusted that Ross would eventually pay back the loan, not aware that Ross had fabricated his financial statements to conceal his company's substantial deficits.

When Ross realized he wasn't able to pay his cousin's debt, he decided to hire someone to murder him, the court heard.

The first attempt on Davis' life came in 2005 when Ross hired someone to beat Davis with a baseball bat outside his office. But witnesses intervened during the assault and the attacker fled early.

Ross was so close to Davis that he delivered the eulogy at his funeral. He was arrested a year later, and has now been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

In a statement, Ross said he "deserved the sentence (he's) getting and everything that goes with it."

Two other men are facing trial for allegedly carrying out the murder. Jury selection in that case will begin next week, and Ross has reportedly agreed to testify against both of the accused.

With files from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry and Colin D'Mello