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Insurance company ordered to pay up after arson destroys grow-op home in Kamloops

August 14, 2015 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - An insurance company must pay a homeowner for the loss of a house and its contents in an arson following an RCMP raid of a marijuana grow operation, a judge has ruled.

Wawanesa Insurance Co. denied benefits to Steven Davidson, arguing he knew about the grow-op in the basement of his house.

However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ordered Wawanesa to pay Davidson, who represented himself at the trial, $215,000.

The remaining amount of $211,000 for the loss was paid to a bank that had a mortgage on the house.

During the raid, in April 2010, police found more than 600 plants, property they believed was stolen, and illegal firearms.

The next day, the house was destroyed in an arson.

At the time, Davidson was working as a contractor setting up illegal grow operations near 100 Mile House.

Court heard he has a dated criminal record for forgery and possession of stolen property.

Davidson was on bail for assaulting his wife, though charges were later dropped, and banned as part of a court order from being within 100 metres of his house, where she lived.

He argued that since he was working away from Kamloops, and banned from being at the home, he did not know about the grow-op.

While Davidson did make a visit to his house anyway, he testified that he did not notice a basement door drywalled shut and painted over.

“This is a case close to the line,” Fitzpatrick said in her ruling.

“But, I accept the evidence of Mr. Davidson and find, as a fact, that he did not know of the grow operation or even the other activities relating to potentially stolen property or potentially illegal firearms over the relevant period of time leading up to the fire.”

Wawanesa originally argued Davidson was responsible for the arson, but later dropped that contention.

The insurance company relied in part on its policy, which voids coverage in the event of marijuana production, whether or not the insured even knows about it.

However, Fitzpatrick said there is no evidence the arson had any connection to the grow-op, despite the suspicious timing.

The insurer also obtained video shot in March 2010 and shown in court, of Davidson discussing a visit to his home.

“Are you telling me she hasn’t got the basement fired up again?” an unidentified male asked Davidson in the video.

“Not very well,” he replied, adding what he'd seen 'down there" was "very pathetic."

“I told her at the end of May that should be enough time to get her program finished, you know, get it up and running and finished," he said, adding he would then sell the house.

Davidson argued “her program” referred to Boucher’s psychiatric program.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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