Arson sentencing delayed

Sentencing for Cascade Gardens fire adjourned

The sentencing for Sydney Leer, who pleaded guilty to charges related to a fire at Cascade Gardens townhouse complex, has been adjourned once again.

On Friday, Norman Yates had his application to be removed as Leer’s lawyer approved. He said she has lost confidence in him and that he unequivocally feels they can’t salvage their relationship.

Judge Gregory Korturbash asked Leer if she would like another lawyer.

“Obviously I would like to have a new lawyer. Unless you are going to dismiss me from a case that shouldn’t exist, yes,” said Leer who appeared via video at the Penticton court house.

The fire was started by a candle on the evening Oct. 13, 2016 and caused nearly $1.2 million in damage to the Penticton townhouse complex.

In a statement to RCMP after her arrest, Leer could only offer that she was angry with her mother, she was having difficulties after dropping out of school and that she wanted to burn the house down. However, it wasn’t just her house destroyed.

The occupants of the fourplex were able to escape their residences when the two-alarm fire spread to the three attached units to Leer’s residence. After an initial attempt by firefighters to enter the home, the main floor of the residence collapsed. It took firefighters several hours to finally extinguish the blaze.

During court proceedings in March, Leer’s mother was critical of doctor’s who released her daughter from the Penticton Regional Hospital’s psychiatric ward earlier in the day before the fire.

“(I’m) angry at the doctor, I want everyone to know that, for releasing Sydney when he should have kept her at the hospital. Which is what I told him. This is why I’m confused,” Jodi Knudson said in court.

Related: Mom of accused arsonist angry with doctor who discharged her

The sentencing had several delays since Leer pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, 2016. One of the causes was the lack of resources with forensic psychiatric services to complete an assessment and report on Leer. That report finally came back diagnosing Leer with borderline personality disorder. She had previously been found mentally fit to stand trial.

Related: Arson sentencing back in court

Crown was seeking a four to five years sentence for the the arson in relation to an inhabited property and arson damaging property.

The sentencing has been adjourned for one week to appear before a trial co-ordinator and to allow Leer time to find another lawyer.

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