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UPDATED: Wilding to remain in custody pending arson trial

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
March 26th, 2014

Lee Wilding, 19, of Castlegar will remain in custody until he faces trial for two counts of arson in connection with the fire at Kinnaird Church of God on March 18.

Provincial Court Judge Donald Sperry,  in Castlegar court this morning, heard Crown counsel Sunday Patola describe a range of evidence supporting what police believe was the timeline of Wilding`s activities prior to the fire, arguing against Wilding`s release due to, “the gravity of the offense,” and circumstances she said were, “extremely aggravated”.

“He hadn’t been out of jail one week from his last arson,” Patola said, referring to the arson on March 25, 2013, that destroyed St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Castlegar as well as gutting a Red Cross van, and for which Wilding was convicted and sentenced to 14 months in jail and three years probation.

Patola added police are currently working to obtain a search warrant for Wilding’s phone, to look for any evidence relating to last week’s fire.

Defense counsel Tyleen Underwood requested that Wilding be released on his own recognizance but with a surety, to be provided by his grandmother, suggesting a figure in the ballpark of $10,000 or $20,000. She said it would be tantamount to house arrest, with the exception of school and work.

“He’s only two courses shy of his Grade 12 (diploma),” she said, adding he already has opportunity for employment secured.

Judge Sperry declined the request, citing as reasons the Crown’s, “strong circumstantial case”, and the short amount of time since Wilding’s release.

“Would the community of Castlegar think I was a damned fool if I let him out?” he said. “The short answer is, yes, they would. And they’d be right.”

Underwood said Wilding will be exercising his right to a speedy trial, and will be pleading not guilty to both counts.

 

Previous story:

 

On March 18 at approximately 11:45 p.m., Castlegar RCMP and Castlegar fire department responded to a fire at the Kinnaird Church of God on Columbia Avenue.

 

The church sustained substantial damage but is still standing. No one was injured as a result of the fire.

 

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated by the Castlegar RCMP, General Investigative Section, and Crime Reduction Unit. It is being treated as suspicious.

 

Police have identified a possible suspect and have one male in custody.

 

Police are still looking to speak with any witnesses to this incident, and anyone with information is asked to call the Castlegar RCMP at (250)365-7721 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Categories: CrimeGeneral

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