R. v. Popova, 2023 ONCJ 331
In the Ontario Court of Justice case of R. v. Popova, Ms. Valentyna Popova pled guilty to arson disregard human life and mischief, under the Criminal Code. Ms. Popova lived in a centre for assisted living, with many seniors occupying it. Early one morning, she was seen on the CCTV starting six different fires within a 2-hour time period. This again happened a few days later. She “used a lighter and paper to ignite a floor mat…dropped clothing near the fire which fueled it.” After this, Ms. Popova was arrested and the police found 5 lighters in her pocket.
In this case, Ms. Popova’s circumstances were considered. She was actually only 30 years old, living where she was, with no prior criminal record. Reports explained childhood trauma, limited education, deteriorating relationships, and mental health challenges – among other things. “The Crown recommended an 18-month jail sentence minus pre-sentence custody, the maximum probation, and two ancillary orders.” The court emphasized that Ms. Popova’s careless arson-setting in residential areas created dangerous situations for others. The court held that she would have to serve 4-month conditional sentence on the arson charge but also a concurrent 4-month conditional sentence on the mischief charge.
R v. Vance, 2022 ONSC 5852
In the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Vance, Mr. Vance committed the offence of arson, disregard for human life. Mr. Vance attended the residence of Esther Vance where he began pouring fuel for several minutes and then lighting it to cause a big explosion. At para 28, the court states “I would place the range of sentence for arson, disregard for human life, in the context of a domestic relationship, even post-separation, at between four (4) and six (6) years in custody.”
The court took everything into consideration here again, but what was quite aggravating was the planned and deliberate nature of the arson endangering life offence. The court found that all the presentence time will be credited to the arson endangering life conviction. The final sentence for Mr. Vance encompassed 23 months in custody, plus probation for three years, plus the ancillary orders. A major factor in this sentencing was that when committing arson against Ms. Vance, Mr. Vance put the life of everyone else in danger.
R. v. Alvarado, 2020 ONCJ 621
In this case, the offender pled guilty to one count of arson endangering human life after setting his girlfriend’s apartment on fire and barricading himself inside. No one other than the offender suffered any injuries in the fire, though there were other people living in the apartment building at the time. At sentencing, the court discussed the appropriate sentencing range for such an offence. The court indicated that the maximum penalty for arson endangering human life is 14 years imprisonment, with the average sentence being roughly 1.5 to 5 years imprisonment.
In determining the appropriate sentence, the court considered the various aggravating and mitigating circumstances present in the case. Aggravating factors included the fact that the offender knew other people were in the building at the time he set the fire, that residents had to be evacuated, that he barricaded himself inside making it more difficult to put out the fire, and that the fire was serious and caused substantial damage to the unit.
The court also noted mitigating factors including that the offender was remorseful and had pled guilty to the offence, he had no prior criminal record, had job skills and job opportunities upon release from prison, and that he was a permanent resident and would likely be deported from Canada following the completion of his sentence. The court also noted serious mental health concerns. After considering all the factors presented, the court sentenced the offender to a total of 12 months custody, with credit for 9 months’ time served in pre-trial custody.