A young man accused of setting an occupied house on fire while drunk and high on psychedelic
mushrooms has been found not guilty.
However, 20-year-old Brandon Seberras-Pick was convicted of attempting to light a vehicle on fire and breaking into a home that same night.
Just before 2 a.m. on Feb. 16, 2012, one of the residents of a Large Avenue home in Black Mountain awoke to the sound of birthday balloons popping in the heat and discovered the house on fire, said Judge Jane Cartwright.
The family of four escaped, but “could have died” in the fire, which caused between $200,000 and $300,000 damage.
The court heard that the fire began in some plastic furniture below a ground floor window at the rear of the home and crept up into the deck and the interior of the house.
In an interview with police, Seberras-Pick admitted to lighting a purple deck on fire that night and described how he kneeled so he could light under the deck.
In her decision, Cartwright said his description of the fire he set did not match the Large Avenue home.
Crown had argued the discrepancy was because he was confused by the substances he was on and also suggested that other acts of vandalism and mischief in the area—tire tracks on a lawn, feces on paper in a mailbox, and a wheelbarrow full of frozen food found nearby– should be considered when determining if Seberras-Pick lit the fire.
Seberras-Pick did not admit to those acts, noted Cartwright, and said although the situation “raises grave suspicion,” it does not prove the young man set the house on fire.
The judge is required to consider if Crown proved an offence beyond a reasonable doubt if she is to convict someone of an offence.
She did find that level of proof was met for the break and enter charge, and convicted Seberras-Pick of illegally entering a Black Mountain basement suite early that morning.
The court heard a Feedham Avenue resident awoke after hearing a noise and found a man standing in his kitchen.
The resident yelled for his landlord and the two chased the intruder, who had a distinctive hairstyle, but lost sight of him.
A police service dog later located the man at a Kelowna home and bags with items stolen from Feedham Avenue were found on the property, Cartwright said.
Seberras-Pick also admitted he committed the crime to police, she noted.
During that interview, he also spoke to police about damaging a vehicle by trying to set it on fire.
Police later learned a 2003 Mitsubishi Galant had its side mirror damaged that morning and there
were remains of a lighter found in the gas tank.
While there were no witnesses to the attempted fire, Seberras-Pick`s description of the damage
to a side mirror is consistent with what happened to the Galant, said Cartwright. As well, the fire start attempt occurred near the break and enter where Seberras-Pick was spotted.
A pre-sentence report with a psychiatric component was ordered after the judge’s decision. Seberras-Pick returns to court Jan. 14 to set a sentencing date.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor