Accused intentionally set fire in complainant’s bedroom

Ontario criminal | Arson


Accused intentionally set fire in complainant’s bedroom

Accused charged with administering noxious substance, arson and attempted murder. Crown alleged that, in context of child access dispute, accused added drugs to her daughter-in-law’s drinks, causing her to become impaired, and then set fire in bedroom after she put complainant to bed. Accused submitted that it is probable and possible that complainant negligently or intentionally caused fire by smoking in bed and that she then acted in concert with another person to frame accused. Accused acquitted of attempted murder but convicted of arson and administering noxious substance. Diphenhydramine and benzodiazepines were found in complainant’s urine sample and accused had made purchase of Nytol (which contained diphenhydramine) in hour before visit. Benzodiazepines detected in complainant’s system remained mystery. Expert testified that area of origin of fire was closet in bedroom above floor level and that it was caused by intentional application of open flame to combustibles. Experts’ evidence ruled out accused’s theories as to origins of fire. Court found complainant’s testimony reliable and corroborated by other witnesses. Court was satisfied that accused had motive to discredit complainant in her quest for custody and right to move and her goal to portray herself as most suitable parent. There was no doubt that accused intended to cause bodily harm when she administered diphenhydramine to complainant. Accused intentionally set fire in complainant’s bedroom by applying open flame to contents of closet. Court was not satisfied that Crown had proven that accused had specific intent to cause complainant’s death.

R. v. Fournel (Mar. 8, 2012, Ont. S.C.J., Hennessy J., File No. 17167-10) 100 W.C.B. (2d) 132 (47 pp.).

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