Firefighters and investigators found a jerrycan that appeared to be new, open and half full, along with two boxes of kindling, one where the fire had been concentrated in the garage. (Facebook/Debbie Beech)

Jury out for deliberation in Esquimalt arson case

Deliberation follows a two-week trial

The jury is out for deliberation in the trial of Wei Li, who’s been accused of intentionally or recklessly setting his Esquimalt rental property on fire in October 2017.

Li purchased the home in 2016, taking possession in October and living there until April of 2017. During earlier testimony, Li described the purchase as a ‘bad decision’ because of evidence in the garage of a previous tenant processing drugs in the space.

While Li lived in the Uganda Avenue home, he rented the upstairs suite to Billy Montgomery and his partner, Tracey. The three became good friends, testified Li, taking trips to Tofino and Nanaimo together, along with bonding over a love of sushi.

RELATED: Esquimalt arson trial hears of feud with tenant before the fire

Several weeks after Li moved to Montreal, in April 2017, the friendship with Montgomery began to deteriorate, especially in June and July of that year.

From the time Li moved out, to Sept. 30, 2017 he did not visit the Esquimalt home but received numerous calls from police officers and city bylaw officers. The calls centred around an inspection of the house that showed 19 defects with the electricity and officials gave Li three months to fix the problems – threatening to shut the power off to the home.

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

During these calls, a police officer told Li the house may not be covered by insurance if there was a fire because issues surrounding the condition of the home had been raised already. Li told the courts that because of an investment certification he received in Toronto, he had “rich” knowledge about insurance.

Li decided to evict Montgomery and another tenant living downstairs in order to have the defects fixed. The downstairs tenant left without issue but Li testified Montgomery refused. The Crown asserts Li did not make efforts to repair the home.

On Sept. 30, 2017 Li arrived back in Victoria. From Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, the day of the fire, both Montgomery and Li had a couple of ‘serious conflicts,’ some becoming physical.

On the first day of trial the jury heard the agreed statement of facts that included a lengthy list of web searches from Li’s phone made the day before the fire detailing how to transport gasoline in plastic containers and nearby police and fire departments.



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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Langford approves permit for 124-unit mass timber building

Tallwood 1 to be completed by late 2021

Victoria man in custody after shooting in 100-block of Gorge Road East

The man is facing recommended charges including assault with a weapon

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

Book stores in Victoria notice uptick in sales for anti-racism titles

White Fragility, How to be an Antiracist are among the best selling titles

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Campbell River’s defunct cruise ship terminal to undergo evaluation for future plans

With no cruise ship coming through, the $16million terminal has been a white elephant for over 13 years

Most Read