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

Oak Bay couple honoured for 35 years volunteering

Mayor awards distinguished Oak Leaf to Bert and Doris Dinsmore

Meet the Liberal candidate for Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Roxanne Helme about ‘governance, not politics’

Hospital foundation president praises generosity of Peninsula residents

Karen Morgan said support during COVID-19, financial and otherwise, has been touching

New Democrats on Saanich Peninsula still looking to announce candidate

While BC Liberals have nominated Stephen Roberts, New Democrats have not yet announced candidate

UPDATED: West Shore RCMP locate dangerous, ‘high-risk sex offender’ thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read