July 10, 2014 - 6:45 PM
KELOWNA - The man who burned down the Westbank Lions Hall was sentenced to federal prison today.
Kerry Cooper, 30, will serve three and a half years behind bars for setting the fire. He did it to get revenge on the woman who was getting married there the next morning, Sept. 1, 2013. Amanda Nevdoff had earlier advised Cooper's girlfriend to dump him and burning down Nevdoff's wedding venue was his way of getting back at her.
“My common-law wife instigated me and I acted out of anger,” Cooper said in court Thursday.
After seeing surveillance footage of himself buying gas and walking in the direction of the Hall, Cooper admitted to setting the fire.
“I intentionally started the place on fire,” Cooper said in court before expressing remorse at the impact the destruction had on the community. “I had no intention of hurting West Kelowna.”
Damage to the 31,000 sq. ft. building is estimated at roughly $1.4 million. The building was shared by more than 50 different organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, School District 23 and the Red Cross. Witness impact statements were submitted by SD23 Superintendent Hugh Gloster and West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.
“If you wanted to hurt West Kelowna this is the building you would choose,” said Judge Anne Wallace who called the facts of the case “disturbing.” “You are fortunate nobody was in there.”
The court ordered Cooper to pay Nevdoff, the West Kelowna Lions Club, the Red Cross Society and SD 23 restitution totalling $5,500.
Cooper, who has an extensive criminal record both as a juvenile and an adult, pleaded guilty and was self-represented in court.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014