Our client was employed at a grocery store as a full time night clerk. His responsibilities as a night clerk included disposing of the empty cardboard boxes and packaging materials in a trash compactor. Several nights before the night in question, another employee had reported a smell of smoke coming from the trash compactor – a fact that the police did not investigate. On the night in question, surveillance footage captured our client lighting some cardboard packaging material on fire, but then putting the lit material to the side and loading the rest of the garbage into the trash compactor. Approximately four hours later, one of his co-workers located the trash compactor on fire.
Our client was charged with arson. Defence counsel retained a forensic engineering expert, who prepared a report about the trash compactor that detailed the various potential sources of a fire. After the report was provided to the prosecutor, the prosecution agreed to a guilty plea to the lesser offence of arson by negligence and twelve-month conditional discharge.
RESULT: Our client received a conditional discharge, which does not result in a permanent criminal record.