Teen found not guilty of arson

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - A 15-year-old Amherst youth has been cleared of a charge related to a fire at the bridge workshop last October.

AMHERST - A 15-year-old Amherst youth has been cleared of a charge related to a fire at the bridge workshop last October.

In handing down his decision, youth court judge David Milner said he was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the young man, whose name is protected by the Youth Justice Act, intentionally set the fire that caused extensive damage to the Croft Street building.

"I have to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he caused the fire and I have to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that arson was committed," Milner said in handing down his not guilty verdict. "I have reasonable doubt that this young person, because of his actions, caused this fire."

The youth was charged last November following the early morning fire on Oct. 28, 2006, at the centre for mentally-challenged adults that employs 26 people.

Milner said arson is a charge that requires the accused to have either intentionally or recklessly caused damage by fire. From the evidence presented he does not feel the youth meant to cause fire to the bridge workshop when he flicked a cigar in the direction of the centre's clothing bin.

In his closing summation, defence attorney Rob Gregan said the onus was on the Crown to prove his client intentionally set the fire. He stressed the fact witnesses could not determine the ignition source of the fire meaning they did not know the cause, other than that it was suspicious.

"In order to determine the cause of the fire you have to determine what the ignition source is. If you're unable to determine the ignition source you cannot determine the cause of the fire. There's a serious hole in the Crown's case," Gregan said, adding his client never admitted to causing the fire but said when interviewed by police that he hoped he didn't cause it.

Crown attorney Wayne Bacchus said whether the cigar was flicked or tossed it still landed in the bin and set fire to the clothing located there.

"Cigarettes or cigars can cause fire to clothing. It shouldn't take an expert to determine that. It's like rain falls down, it's common knowledge," Bacchus said, adding he proved the Crown's case beyond a reasonable doubt.



dcole@amherstdaily.com

Geographic location: Croft Street

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