December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
A serial arsonist has been spared a real jail sentence for a string of fires which terrorized a Winnipeg neighbourhood.
Brandon Sutyla, 21, pleaded guilty to nine counts of arson Tuesday as part of a plea bargain with justice officials. The Crown dropped 13 other similar charges and agreed to a two-year conditional sentence which allows Sutyla to remain free in the community.
All of the fires occurred between May and July 2011 in Fort Rouge and caused more than $100,000 damage. Sutyla admits he set several garages, garbage bins and even vehicles on fire. There were no injuries.
Defence counsel Martin Glazer told court his client has the mind of someone "half his age" because of severe cognitive issues which includes autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Sutyla is a no stranger to the courts, having been convicted for setting a garage fire on Wellington Crescent in 2009. However, he also confessed at the time to setting more than a dozen other fires in which charges were eventually dropped.
Police arrested Sutyla again in early August 2011 after finding him near a small-car fire on Chancellor Drive, which he admitted to setting. Police questioned Sutyla for 16 hours and subsequently charged him with the other offences. He also took police on a tour of the neighbourhood, pointing out fires he claims to have set.
Sutyla has been free on bail for the past 15 months with strict conditions which include having his mother install an alarm system in the home that will let her know if her son attempts to sneak out. There have been no allegations of breaches
A court-ordered report also shows Sutyla is a low risk to reoffend provided he is being properly supervised and monitored in the community. As part of his conditional sentence, he will be under a nightly 9 p.m. curfew.