Our Client drove his vehicle through the front window of a 7-Eleven Retail Store in Salmon Arm, BC. He exited his vehicle inside the store, poured gas into the cab and, after making inquiries as to everyone being out of the store, threw a match into the vehicle. The fire spread quickly and destroyed the entire building. Some vehicles were burnt; however, no one was physically harmed.
Upon review of all the disclosure and numerous interviews with our client, Mr. Verdurmen recognized there was no viable defence. Accordingly, our emphasis shifted to sentencing and showing that our client had unusual tragic circumstances and significant mental health issues. Furthermore, we asked that a report show the effects of Schizophrenia/Bi-Polar Disorder on his life and the events on this date. We emphasized to the court some disadvantages, prejudice and lack of opportunities that came because of his indigenous heritage.
The presiding Justice considered the mitigating factors of a reduced moral blameworthiness from childhood traumas and mental illness. He also emphasized our client’s disconnection from his indigenous community and heritage. The presiding Justice noted that the maximum sentence for this offence was 14 years imprisonment. Nevertheless, after considering the principles and purposes of sentencing and the particular submissions made, determined that the appropriate sentence was one of 540 days in jail effectively time served of 360 days plus 3 years of probation. This was even less time than the joint submission between the crown and the defence.