Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killer gets maximum for death of five in fire

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Lulonda Flett claims she was angry and trying to send a message when she torched a Winnipeg rooming house.

Now, the justice system has made its own bold statement in handing down the maximum sentence for killing five victims during the 2011 blaze in Point Douglas.

Flett was given a life term on Thursday after pleading guilty to five counts of manslaughter and arson. However, she is eligible for parole under federal legislation after serving just seven years. Since she has already done two years since her arrest, Flett could taste freedom as early as 2018.

Queen's Bench Justice Deborah McCawley rejected Flett's bid for as little as eight years behind bars, saying the maximum sanctions are warranted for such a selfish and reckless act.

Flett previously asked the families of her victims for forgiveness and blamed her actions on her addiction to alcohol.

"I am deeply sorry for what I have done," she said during a sentencing hearing earlier this year. "I really hope you can forgive me for what happened. I will never forget what happened. I never meant for this to happen... Every night I cry myself to sleep knowing I can't change what happened."

Eight people were inside the home -- two escaped unhurt, six were pulled from the home by firefighters and one of them, Bradley Anderson, survived. The other five died: Norman Anderson, 22, Dean Stranden, 44, Kenneth Monkman, 49, Maureen Harper, 54, and Robert Laforte, 56.

Crown prosecutor Liz Thomson told court Flett had had a long-running feud with her boyfriend's mother and teenage daughter, who lived in the rooming house on Austin Street North. She blamed them for her having to spend a night in jail earlier in the week and returned to the rooming house on July 16, 2011, to teach them a lesson, she claimed.

She threw a match onto a couch on the front porch and the ensuing blaze spread to the rest of the house. The three-storey home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.

Ironically, her boyfriend's mother and sister lived on the first floor and escaped without injury, but the others were trapped by the flames on the second and third floors.

Flett ran off to a nearby residence, where she met with her boyfriend and admitted to him she had started the fire.

 

-- Mike McIntyre

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 B3

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