Alleged serial arsonist sentenced for single fire in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Alleged serial arsonist sentenced for single fire in Kelowna

RCMP say this image of Kristopher Marshall from security camera footage was taken shortly after he lit a fire at the corner of Springfield Road and Burtch Road last year.
February 16, 2018 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA – A homeless man with a history of mental illness who police said might have started five fires in Kelowna last year, was sentenced today for starting only one.

Kristopher Marshall was arrested Sept. 27, one day after Kelowna RCMP issued video footage of a man they say lit a stuffed animal wrapped in a blanket on fire at the corner of Springfield Road and Burtch Road around 11 a.m. the day before.

He has been in custody ever since, and pleaded guilty to a single charge of arson to his own property last November.

His lawyer Michael Stephenson called the fire “a cry for help” from a man struggling with addiction and mental illness. Help, he says, which he has been able to access in jail.

“I want to own up for my actions,” Marshall said in court, adding he would accept any sentence handed down.

RCMP have not commented on why they believed Marshall may have been behind four other fires in 2017, but no other charges are currently pending.

He was investigated for starting a pair of dumpster fires in the 1800 block of Baron Road Sept. 19, and small fires in the 1500 block of Banks Road and the 2300 block of Highway 97 North Sept. 21.

Crown prosecutor Mallory Tredennick wanted a sentence of between six and nine months “at the higher end of the range.”

“It’s obviously dangerous to set fires in the Okanagan,” she said, adding that he has sought help with several mental health issues that led to the arson.

With enhanced credit for time spent awaiting trial, Marshall has already served the equivalent of a little more than seven months.

Judge Hewson sentenced Marshall to time served with three years of probation.

Stephenson says his client will continue to get help with his addictions, taking medications and living at the Kelowna Gospel Mission until other housing can be arranged.

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