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Gang associate gets six years for apartment block fire

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A fire engulfs block at 577 Sherbrook St.

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A fire engulfs block at 577 Sherbrook St.

A Winnipeg gang associate has been handed six years in prison for his lead role in setting a revenge-motivated fire that destroyed a West End apartment block, leaving dozens homeless and 19 people in hospital.

Cody Roulette, 22, learned his fate today after previously pleading guilty to arson and disregard for human life in connection with a Jan. 14, 2012 blaze at a Sherbrook Street apartment block which  levelled the 14-suite building and caused $1-million in damages.

In all, 19 people — including a firefighter and eight kids — were treated in hospital for minor injuries. Most had no insurance and lost everything.

"It was gang-related retaliation and payback," provincial court Judge Sid Lerner said today. Roulette showed "wild and reckless" indifference towards the innocent occupants of 577 Sherbrook St., the judge said.

Roulette, an associate of the West Side Bloodz gang, led the charge as he and fellow gang members ran to a basement suite at the block to avenge an earlier attack on a member by the Mad Cowz street gang. The Bloodz believed the suite was a Mad Cowz "crash pad," Lerner said. The attack took place at 7 a.m., when many occupants of the apartment block would be sleeping, said Lerner.

Roulette admitted to stuffing sheets into the apartment's oven and fleeing with the others as flames quickly engulfed the whole building.

Police caught up to the culprits after being tipped off to look for them at a nearby suite on Furby Street.

Lerner said the facts of the case were highly aggravating in that it appears the crime was committed to further the interests of the West Side Bloodz.

Roulette had no criminal record.

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