April 06, 2013 - 4:38 PM
By Shannon Quesnel
A former Keremeos man was given a suspended sentence for arson Friday.
Inderjit Chima, 37, attempted to burn down his restaurant, the former Riverbed Bistro in Keremeos, on May 26, 2011 using a small jerry can filled with $10 worth of gasoline. Even though no fire was set he was charged with arson and having incendiary materials. He was also charged with assault.
His case was originally set for trial in Penticton Provincial Court but he instead pled guilty to arson in relation to inhabited property. The other charges of possession of incendiary materials, arson: damage to own property, assault and uttering threats were dropped.
Crown lawyer Deb Drissel and defence lawyer Marty Johnson made a joint submission for a suspended sentence and 18 months probation which Judge Greg Koturbash granted.
The Crown had lined up Chima's wife and his child as witnesses but neither appeared in court. Three other witnesses, two RCMP officers and a civilian, were waiting outside the courtroom but were not called in.
Drissel said Chima was very drunk on May 26, 2011. He had been in an argument as well. One witness saw him with the jerry can and heard him make a threat.
"He said he was going to light it up," Drissel explained. Several customers and Chima's wife were in the building at the time. There were also apartments upstairs.
"Fortunately, you didn't have something to start the fire," Korturbash said. A police investigation found no sign of a lighter or other ignition device.
At least two employees pulled the jerry can away from Chima but not before he emptied it along the sides of the building. Chima fled the scene on foot after assaulting a family member. RCMP officers arrested him at his home.
Part of his probation means Chima cannot have, consume or buy any alcohol. Johnson asked the judge if that part could be modified.
Chima and his wife now operate a restaurant in Surrey and instead of having alcohol delivered she buys it herself at a liquor store. She would like her husband to share the workload. She wants him to have the court's permission to buy liquor and deliver it to the restaurant.
Korturbash refused the request.
"Your client went off the rails," he said. "A bottle in your hand is a recipe for disaster."
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at email@example.com or call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013