Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Man faces prison sentence after failed suicide attempt

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HE made a chilling phone call to his mother -- then lit the match he thought was going to end his life.

But Clayton Fehr survived, and now the Manitoba man is facing an uncertain future after burning his own house down in a botched suicide bid.

Fehr, 38, was convicted of arson following a trial earlier this year. He returned to court Wednesday for sentencing. The Crown is seeking up to 31/2 years in prison, saying Fehr put many lives at risk through his reckless actions, including those of firefighters who responded to the blaze.

Defence lawyer Mike Cook said a 12- to 15-month stint behind bars is more appropriate, noting his client didn't set out to hurt anyone but himself. Fehr suffered third-degree burns to his leg after igniting gasoline he'd spread around his Altona-area home in 2011.

"This is sad. I feel very bad for Clayton Fehr. He's a man to be pitied," Cook told court.

Queen's Bench Justice Joan McKelvey has reserved her decision until this fall.

Fehr had called his mother just prior to the fire, telling her to "call the funeral director." He has a history of suicide threats and mental illness, although not to the point where he sought to be found not criminally responsible for his actions. Fehr also has two prior arson convictions surrounding domestic-related incidents, including one in 2003 where he told police Satan had given him a lighter and he could see "demons in the flames."

This most recent fire caused more than $70,000 damage to Fehr's home, court was told. Fehr has spent the equivalent of 15 months in pretrial custody, which is expected to be deducted from his overall sentence. As a result, Cook would like his client to be freed immediately with time already served, followed by probation.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2013 A4

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