For the Lakeside Leader
A man charged with setting fires to two downtown High Prairie businesses in 2017 is a free man.
Christopher A. Trindle, 33, of no fixed address, received a 12-month sentence after pleading guilty in High Prairie Provincial Court on Dec. 18 to two counts of arson. However, Judge G.W. Paul credited Trindle, with time served and he was released the same day.
The decision was blasted by High Prairie South Peace News Editor Chris Clegg in an opinion column in the Jan. 2 edition of the News. He called it “a joke,” among several other adjectives, including “disgusting,” and “pathetic.”
Trindle gave no reason for his actions. Court heard he was intoxicated at the time and afterwards could not remember anything about the incident.
“He has no explanation for starting the fires,” said his lawyer Dallas Gelineau, adding that Trindle plans to take treatment for alcohol and drug addictions.
The fires Trindle lit damaged the Collett Building and the Pin Cushion Boutique on Aug. 15 of 2017. The buildings are about a block apart. Trindle set fire to two vehicles, the flames spreading to the buildings. He was seen holding a gasoline container shortly after the fires were reported. Damage totalled about $410,000. But no restitution was granted to any of the victims.
“Restitution is virtually non-existent,” said Judge Paul, probably referring to the possibility of Trindle being able to pay any.
As for the 12-month sentence, it arose in the form of a joint submission from the prosecution and the defence. Judge Paul accepted it, noting, however, that for many, “it may seem inadequate.”
Luckily no one was injured in the fires. If there had been, Judge Paul said, Trindle would have been looking at time in a federal prison.
The Collett Building was home to Angel Business Services, Northern Alberta Fetal Alcohol and PACE Community Support Sexual Assault and Trauma Centre. One half of the building was extremely damaged, while a 2010 Dodge truck was totaled.
Tenants in apartment above the Pin Cushion Boutique were evacuated. Damage to the building was extensive.