Throwing a lit cigarette onto his mattress while his roommate slept in a neighbouring bedroom was, admitted the accused, “eff-ing stupid.”
Brandan Joshua Milligan Boyce, 20, pleaded guilty to arson in connection with a fire at a Vernon townhouse unit in the 1900 block of 44th Street in July 2014.
Boyce, who turned himself into police the same day of the fire, was sentenced to two years in jail followed by two years of probation for the arson in Vernon Provincial Court Tuesday.
He was also sentenced to 61 days and fined $250 for three breaches of probation which happened after the fire. Boyce has been in custody since May 2015 and was given credit for time already served, meaning he’ll face about 17 months of new jail time.
Court heard that the fire began on July 17, 2014, at 7:30 a.m., and that the source of the fire was Boyce’s mattress after a lit cigarette had been tossed onto it. Boyce’s roommate was asleep in a neighbouring bedroom when the fire started.
The blaze broke through the ceiling of the townhouse unit. The roommate and a mother and her 15-year-old daughter of the neighbouring townhouse were evacuated from the scene.
There was nearly $138,000 in damage to the townhouses as a result of the fire.
“Crown is not alleging the fire was pre-meditated as there was no accelerant found,” said Crown lawyer Margaret Cissell. “But Crown submits Mr. Boyce was well aware his roommate was sleeping upstairs.”
Boyce told a psychiatrist he had an altercation with the roommate the night before, and stated the roommate had “struck him with a crescent wrench and trashed his room,” making him angry.
Boyce’s lawyer, Nicholas Jacob, said his client was intoxicated at the time of the offence and “out of his mind” with anger over the assault and the trashing of his room.
Boyce turned himself into the RCMP the afternoon of the fire.
“He has expressed remorse and has said he’s sorry but sorry doesn’t cut it,” said Jacob. “He is extremely thankful nobody was seriously injured.”
Judge Mark Takahashi agreed with Crown’s request for a two-year sentence followed by two years probation.
Defence had been seeking a sentence of two years less a day down to 18 months.
Boyce was also given a mandatory 10-year firearms prohibition.