The ex-boyfriend of the woman accused of starting a fire that burned down three Princeton homes in 2014 told police she had threatened to burn his snowmobile and “go out with a bang” the evening the fires started.
Ashley Patricia Gallagher is facing three counts of arson in relation to an inhabited property and three counts of arson damaging property.
In opening statements Tuesday, prosecutor John Swanson said that the Crown’s case will revolve entirely around the circumstantial evidence and the alleged statements made by Gallagher and multiple witnesses on the day in question, March 27, 2014.
In a statement made to police, Gallagher’s boyfriend at the time, Robert Cormack, said it was in a phone conversation that she threatened to burn his snowmobile. He said this happened just hours before multiple properties were engulfed in flames destroying three Princeton homes.
Cormack and Gallagher, who lived together, were allegedly arguing on the day in question. Gallagher was asking Cormack to come home from his parent’s residence in Tulameen.
Cormack’s statement to police was reviewed during cross examination by Gallagher’s defence lawyer Don Campbell.
“When she was torching the snowmobile, she put it on speakerphone, like, and you could hear the Bic lighter in the background,” Cormack said in his statement to police, which he confirmed during trial Wednesday. “She’s like, listen to this, and flicking the lighter.”
“She said she was, straight out, ‘if I’m going down, I’m going down with a bang’,” Cormack told police in the statement.
Campbell asked Cormack about his response to the threat of burning his sled.
“Your family’s emergency response plan was to have a beer?” Campbell asked Cormack.
“Yes,” Cormack said.
Princeton residents who were forced out of their homes due to the damage caused by the fires testified on Wednesday as well.
James Humbird and his wife Darlene were watching a movie on their couch the evening of the fires.
“There was a loud explosion that rocked the whole house,” Humbird recalled.
Humbird said by his estimate, the flames originated from a shed on Gallagher and Cormack’s property. A shed that Cormack previously testified contained multiple valuable items owned by himself and Gallagher, including an air compressor.
The court previously heard from Cormack that his snowmobile, along with an ATV owned by Gallagher, was located beside the shed.
Humbird said the loud noise sounded like a propane tank exploding.
“Pretty much the whole house filled up with a red glow,” Humbird testified.
He and his wife were eventually forced to leave their home after attempting to save their cats and belongings. He watched with others as the flames spread and fire shot through his windows.
“That’s when I knew it was going to be a total loss,” Humbird said.
The Crown is expecting to conclude it’s case by the end of the day Thursday.