Vernon firestarter lands three-year sentence for 2014 arson spree | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon firestarter lands three-year sentence for 2014 arson spree

Court security escorted Munton out of the building after his sentence on Jan. 25.
January 25, 2019 - 5:02 PM

VERNON - A former Salmon Arm school teacher-turned-spree-arsonist got almost three years in prison today in Vernon court.

William Munton, 57, appeared in-person in Vernon Supreme Court today, Jan. 25, to hear his sentence from Justice George Macintosh for blazing through Vernon with a series of arsons nearly five years ago. In October of last year, Munton pled guilty to seven counts of arson for a spree during the  summer and fall of 2014. He initially faced 19 arson charges.

Crown and defense lawyers agreed to 36 months in prison for Munton's crimes. Munton sat quietly in the courtroom as the Crown detailed how the fire spree gripped Vernon from Jun. 9 to Oct. 16 in 2014. Munton befriended a young person who helped him execute several arsons. The young person was never formally charged.

Munton's first guilty plea stemmed from an incident on Jun. 9. According to prosecutor Juan O'Quinn, he drove to a storage facility on Pleasant Valley Road and, using a makeshift arson mechanism (a bottle mixer filled with a firestarter cube and gasoline), sparked a blaze in the building. The flames quickly spread to a propane tank, causing an explosion that destroyed a boat which belonged to Munton's friend.

According to the Crown, nearly two weeks later, on Jun. 21, Munton drove to another storage facility on Okanagan Road. He placed his arson mechanism in a vehicle and lit it, destroying the vehicle.

On the same day, Munton placed his mechanism in a vehicle on 43 Street in Vernon, but the fire failed to catch on. The bottle provided evidence for police to investigate the rash of fires. Munton's fingerprints were eventually found on the bottle.

On July 8, Munton and the young person tried to set fire to a house under construction in Coldstream when the young person placed the mechanism near a stack of lumber, but the fire didn't catch on. The damage there was under $2,000.

The Kin Race Track fire on July 9, which was the most widely-known arson in Vernon during the spree. According to the Crown, Munton and the young person drove to the race track at night and used the mechanism to start the fire on the grandstands. Munton drove to Turtle Mountain to watch the blaze, which incurred $300,000 in damages.

On July 21, Munton drove to a food co-op in Vernon and the young used the mechanism to ignite roughly 2,000 crates, causing $160,000 in damages.

The Crown stated the main spree occurred in this six-week period, however Munton pled guilty to another arson on Oct. 2, 2014. According to the Crown, Munton and the young person entered a duplex near Seaton High School and started a fire. They didn't know two kids were on the roof of the building at the time. The kids shouted for help and jumped off the building.

Munton was arrested and charged with the arsons in June 2016. The Crown said Munton's spree impacted the entire Vernon community, which was an aggravating factor. Munton's guilty plea and remorse were noted as mitigating factors.

Munton's defense lawyer Julian van der Walle laid out his client's education and work history. He said Munton has stayed employed since his arrest and enjoys continued support from his friends and family. He believes his client has a strong chance at rehabilitation.

Justice Macintosh agreed with joint submission, sentencing Munton to three years minus time served, which equals two years, 10 months, and 15 days. He also imposed a 10-year weapons ban.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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