January 29, 2016 - 4:44 PM
INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE SHE BURNED DOWN THREE HOUSES AFTER LOVERS QUARREL
PENTICTON - A woman accused of deliberately starting a fire that burned three homes in Princeton was acquitted in Penticton Supreme Court today, Jan. 29.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers said he was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt Ashley Gallagher set the fire that destroyed outbuildings and three residences in Princeton on March 27, 2014.
Judge Myers said a dispute arose between Gallagher and her partner, Robert Cormack, following her return from a visit to her mother’s home in March 2014.
She arrived home to find Cormack at his mother’s house in Tulameen, and when she called him he refused to return home.
Not knowing what was wrong, Gallagher drove to Tulameen where she had a confrontation with Cormack’s family and friend Dustin Gereau. She was told to leave the residence, which she did, Myers said.
At roughly 10 p.m. that evening, Princeton firefighters were called to a “chaotic scene” following several explosions in a shed behind the house Cormack and Gallagher resided in. Fire spread to three residences and other outbuildings. Witnesses said the fire started in the area of the shed.
Judge Myers said Crown failed to prove Gallagher acted in the heat of anger, lighting the fire to burn Cormack’s effects after being spurned by him.
The judge said there was no evidence and no witness to Gallagher’s involvement in starting the fires, noting their case was built primarily on statements of Cormacks and others regarding threats allegedly made by Gallagher.
He said he was not convinced of the threats allegedly made by Gallagher, calling prosecution’s evidence of Gallagher’s threats unreliable.
A relieved Gallagher spoke to media outside the courtroom following the verdict, alongside defence lawyer Don Campbell. He noted none of the forensic evidence pointed to Gallagher, calling the case “one in which it took a long time to get to the bottom of.”
He also noted the verdict failed to resolve the huge property losses suffered by several people who lost everything, calling it a “tragedy.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016