Firefighters and investigators found a jerrycan open and half full, along with two boxes of kindling . (Facebook/Debbie Beech)

Firefighters and investigators found a jerrycan open and half full, along with two boxes of kindling . (Facebook/Debbie Beech)

Esquimalt homeowner charged with arson searched how to transport gasoline days before fire

Wei Li is charged with one count of arson: damage to own property

The trial for a man charged with intentionally or recklessly setting fire to a duplex he owned in Esquimalt started Monday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Wei “George” Li, seated in the defendant box at the Victoria courthouse with an interpreter to ensure he understands every word of the testimony, had a cheerful disposition, smiling throughout the proceedings. The trial is anticipated to last two to three weeks with Jess Patterson, representing the Crown, calling 17 witnesses including an upstairs tenant, a former tenant, a neighbour, firefighters and police officers.

The 12-person jury heard the agreed statements of facts including: when the fire broke out at 318 Uganda Ave.; Li’s ownership of the residence; and a lengthy list of web searches from Li’s phone made the previous day. The web searches detailed how to transport gasoline in plastic containers and nearby police and fire departments.

RELATED: Arson charge laid against Esquimalt homeowner

Patterson began his opening statements by reminding the jury that what he says in opening isn’t evidence but only what he expects will be evidence.

According to Patterson on Oct. 3, 2017 Li arrived at the duplex in the morning. Bill Montgomery was living in the upstairs suite and began yelling at Li. Patterson called the pair’s relationship “challenging.”

Montgomery and two friends, who had spent the night at his residence, left the suite that morning, only to return later to find the garage engulfed in flames.

READ ALSO: Victoria Police release video of suspect linked to two cases of arson

About 40 minutes later, Li arrived at the Victoria International Airport and was attempting to board a flight. Li was in need of first aid treatment, as he was suffering from burns to the left side of his face and his ears. Wei was arrested at the airport and transported to hospital for treatment.

Firefighters and investigators found a jerrycan that appeared to be new, open and half full, along with boxes of kindling.

Detective Jason Eagle, the primary investigator on the case, was first on the witness stand, going through about 30 photos taken during the search of the suite, showing boxes of kindling in the garage, a jerrycan and a key to the suite that was found on Wei while he was at the airport.

Defence lawyer Rolphe Horne’s cross examination of Eagle made note of two cars associated with the scene of the same make, model and color — one of which was Li’s and the other belonging to Montgomery’s friend who had stayed the night.

The Crown’s case is expected to last the entire week.



kendra.crighton@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

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read