Thu, October 7, 2004
A MOTHER with multiple personalities who removed the batteries from the smoke detectors then set fire to her Orillia home and fled while her teen sons slept was sentenced yesterday. The 50-year-old single mom, who can not be named to protect her sons' identities, was convicted of arson and endangering life and sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence.
The sentence, handed down in a Barrie court, is to be served at the Elizabeth Fry Society in Toronto along with three years probation. A charge of attempted murder was dropped.
The woman was a patient at the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre for depression, suicidal tendencies and mental illness and was home on a weekend pass when she removed batteries of the smoke detectors near her sons' rooms on Feb. 15, 2003.
In the middle of the night she poured gas on her bedroom rug and set it on fire before returning to the centre in a taxi.
The boys woke up to flames and bursting windows and raced through the house, frantically searching for their mom. They escaped safely.
"Nobody in their right mind would set a house on fire and leave their children to burn," they stated in a bitter victim impact statement where they asked the judge to keep their mother in jail.
"She is manipulative and good at convincing others she is well ... she fooled everyone."
"It was a calculated and deliberate act ... that put the life of her own sons in jeopardy," said Justice Michelle Fuerst. "But it would be unjust to penalize her for her mental illness and warehouse her (in a prison)."
Standing in the prisoner's box, dressed in a green sweatshirt and track pants, the woman softy whispered "yes" as the judge asked if she could follow the court restrictions, including an order to have no contact with her children.