Lake Country man who drunkenly set fire to stranger's home in 2018, now sober | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lake Country man who drunkenly set fire to stranger's home in 2018, now sober

Kelowna Law Courts.
July 20, 2020 - 12:14 PM

A Lake Country man who went on a 2018 crime spree that included lighting a fire outside a stranger's home and then stealing a truck to escape, has sobered up and is trying to improve his life for the sake of his young child, his defence lawyer says.

Matthew David Hansen, 32, has been sober for 20 months and three days, embracing “structure and rehabilitation” since being the catalyst of a strange series of events that he claims he has no memory of.

His lawyer, Ben Lynskey, is asking for a suspended sentence for the charge of arson, accompanied by a three-year supervision order.  Crown counsel Dave Ruse has recommended a sentence of three to five years in prison.

According to Lynskey, Hansen blacked out the memory of starting a fire outside of a home in the 2500 block of Robinson Road in Lake Country, and was an addict at the time. Though the strange series of events is likely seared into the memory of others who were there that day.

According to RCMP at the time, Hansen was chased from a fire he started from an unusual pile of objects at around 7 a.m. by a resident of the home. When the resident, David Yerema, went outside to douse the blaze, his pajamas caught fire, Hansen got away and Yerema's wife took chase.

Hansen got away by running into an orchard, and he then stole a pickup truck, which ended up crashing on Lake Hill Drive in the Lakes subdivision.

RCMP at the time said he was seen by residents, hopping over fences and he was arrested within a couple of hours of the fire being sparked.

In his defence, Lynskey said that it’s clear from video footage from the crime that Hansen wasn’t “goal oriented” with his attempt to set fire to the home.

“What you can take from his actions is that this was not well thought out… if his goal was to set the fire,” Lynskey said. “He was aimlessly wandering around. His primary goal was to get into the cars.”

Video footage shows Hansen stumbling about and checking car door locks repeatedly. It also shows, said Lynskey, that while he sparked the fire he ignored plenty of other incendiary materials.

Yerema, said Lynskey, was completely healed from the effects of the blaze.

The sentencing continues in Kelowna court.

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