Alberni arsonist loses appeal for conditional sentence

The B.C. Court of Appeal has denied an application for a conditional sentence from the Alberni man who went on an arson spree in 2010.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has denied an application for a conditional sentence from the Port Alberni man who went on an arson spree in 2010.

Ryan Justin Cootes, 24, was convicted last year of three counts of arson and sentenced to 18 months in prison in Port Alberni provincial court.

In a 2-1 vote, the appeal judges reduced his sentence from 18-months to 12 months because Cootes had no previous criminal record and because he is a First Nations offender, court documents show.

The offense was Cootes’ first. He’d grasped the seriousness of his actions and was remorseful, the judgment noted. As well, Cootes displayed no predilection for starting fires, nor were they targeted. The 18-month sentence was therefore too long, according to the judgment.

The judgment further noted, however, that the sentencing judge failed to give more significance to Cootes’ aboriginal background and exercise the option of a conditional sentence. “I proceed on the basis that it is available. Whether it is appropriate is another matter,” the sentencing judge noted.

According to Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, special attention must be given to an offender’s aboriginal status when a sentence is rendered.

The conditional sentence option was open to the judge, but so too was the weight that had to be given to community safety. The court couldn’t accept that the stressors that caused Cootes to snap that August morning were behind him, therefore Cootes could, if placed on a conditional sentence, be a danger to the community, the judgment noted.

Justice Smith, however, dissented, saying that the sentence was unfit. A conditional sentence, with appropriate conditions, could have achieved as much as a prison sentence, therefore she’d have rendered one, she noted.

All three judges agreed that the probation, restitution and submitting a DNA sample orders rendered by the trial judge stand.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Port Alberni cyclist collides with passing car

Cyclist received minor injuries

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Vancouver Island designated as foreign trade zone

Designation simplifies importing and exporting and provides duty relief

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

North Island Midget Eagles bit by Alberni Valley Bulldogs, hammer Nanaimo Clippers

It was a bit of an up and down rollercoaster ride of a weekend for the North Island Midget Eagles.

Most Read