Esquimalt arsonist sentencing adjourned to allowing family time to plan

Wei ‘George’ Li was found guilty of intentionally setting fire to his rental property in October

Sentencing for the man convicted of “torching” his Esquimalt rental property was adjourned on Friday – despite a Supreme Court Justice being ready to send him to jail – so that proper arrangements could be made for his wife to access funds in order to pay bills while he’s in custody.

In October 2019, Wei ‘George’ Li was found guilty by a 12-person jury of intentionally setting fire to the home in the 300-block of Uganda Avenue October 2017. The courts heard on Friday that Li and his wife, who suffers from thyroid cancer, are separated but live in the same home in Quebec to co-parent their two children, one of which is on the autism spectrum.

Justice Robin Baird was unimpressed with the Li’s lack of preparedness and said he was ready to sentence him then and there, but thanks to the lack of opposition from Crown, he would grant the adjournment.

READ ALSO: Guilty verdict for man accused of setting fire to his Esquimalt rental property

“I do find it surprising that he is taken so unaware by the fact that he should face a jail sentence for torching a house in the middle of a densely populated residential area,” said Baird, who will now deliver his sentence on Wednesday. According to Horne, Li’s wife has no banking details which need to be transferred to her, along with a leased car that needs to be dealt with.

“What in the world did you think was going to happen today,” asked Justice Baird, who said he was “amazed” that Li had not dealt with this.

Li said he thought he would be sent to Quebec and would have to surrender himself there.

During the trial, the courts heard that Li had a strained relationship with his upstairs tenant Billy Montgomery and had attempted to evict him and another tenant in order to address a number of electricity and plumbing issues in the house.

Li testified that Montgomery refused to leave the home and the court heard the two had a series of serious conflicts – some physical – in the days leading up to the fire.

READ ALSO: Esquimalt arson trial hears of feud with tenant before the fire

Montgomery was not in his unit when the fire was started, but returned from a morning outing on Oct. 3, 2017 to find the garage up in flames. Authorities found Li at the Victoria International Airport with burns to the left side of his face and ears. He was arrested and taken to hospital.

Evidence included boxes of kindling found in the home’s garage, a half-full jerrycan, and a number of web searches made on Li’s cellphone for information on gasoline and the locations of nearby police and fire departments.

While arson carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, crown lawyer Jess Patterson suggested a sentence ranging from two to five years.

“The factors that are really pushing me towards the higher end of what I thought was an appropriate sentence was Mr.Li’s disregard for what happened after the fire,” Patterson said. “But [if not] for the burns, Mr. Li would have left.

It appeared Horne asked for two years in federal prison to allow Li to serve time somewhere in Quebec, closer to his family.

Li has also been ordered to not leave the Island until he has been sentenced. His passport was seized at the time of his arrest two years ago.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Victoria man out $6,000 in latest gift card phone scam

Fraudsters claimed to be a member of a bank’s “fraud sting team”

Homes fit for royals for sale in North Saanich

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have returned to Greater Victoria

Gold Rush star dons Lucky Lager shirt in latest episode

Brennan Ruault, originally from Invermere, joined the show in the sixth season

VIDEO: Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Activists want Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demands to be upheld, observed and respected

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read