Four years for double arson conviction

| 02/04/2013

(CNS): A 32-year-old George Town man was sentenced to four years imprisonment after submitting guilty pleas before Justice Alex Henderson for a double arson attack in 2011. Sven Conner was convicted for two counts of arson and being reckless to life when he set fire to an air-conditioning unit at the residence of Theresa Brown and Eric Russell. After Brown alerted the fire service to the first fire and they moved across to her mother’s home on the same property, Brown and Russell were awoken by dogs barking and another fire. Justice Henderson commented that this case was “not the most serious of offenses to come before the court” but that Conner's previous criminal history was extensive.

Sven Connor, known as “Dappa”, was in a stormy relationship with Theresa Brown, who is the mother of four children. Although Brown and Connor did not have children together, he would still help her financially. The couple separated during an argument that occurred when Connor was in custody for an unrelated incident and had given Brown some cash. It came to Connor’s attention that some of the funds had not been used as Brown had said.
When Connor returned from jail in December 2011, he met with Brown after work and another argument arose, with Brown’s suspicion of his infidelity.

At approximately 10:45pm on the night of the incident, Connor went to see Theresa but he came upon another man, who described himself as being Brown’s new boyfriend. Sven and Brown’s new boyfriend, Eric Russell, got into a physical altercation and a few members of Brown’s family parted them. While he was leaving, Connor made idle threats towards the family. In fear of Connor returning, Brown sent her children to sleep with her mother in a nearby residence on the same property.

An intoxicated Connor returned sometime after midnight and decided, on the spur of the moment, to set a fire to Brown’s home. The couple alerted the Cayman Islands Fire Service and the fire, which destroyed various household items, was extinguished quickly.

Shortly afterwards, Russell and Brown were awoken to the surprise of another blaze, this time to the exterior of Brown’s mother’s residence, where they had moved to sleep after the first fire.

Defense Counsel Nick Hoffman submitted that his client was in an intoxicated state due to the consummation of alcohol and cannabis and therefore became confused as to which house was Brown's residence, which led him to start the second fire. The damage is estimated to be valued at around CI $5,000. Connor said his intention was not to harm anyone, but to frighten Brown, while he was in a fit of anger.

“I don’t infer that the intent was to harm anyone,” Justice Henderson commented. "We’re not talking about a case where the defendant went out with the intent to kill.”

In the most recent prison report, Connor tested positive for cannabis. Defense counsel stated that this said “sadly more about the prison than the individual”. Justice Henderson agreed by adding that this news was “not quite remarkable” to him. Included in the prison report, it is stated that Connor had some disciplinary issues but these were resolved, and that he is currently a member of the Inmate Counsel. In addition, it stated that Connor is taking classes for anger management which helps with the treatment of his depressive disorder, along with other courses.

Justice Henderson said he took all of this into account, along with Connor’s letter detailing his remorse and desire to change his life. Sven received full credit for entering a guilty plea prior to the beginning of a trial, the judge said. Although Connor had served a ten year prison sentence for manslaughter and was convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm, Justice Henderson said he was not permitted to punish him a second time for that.

In his conclusion, the judge accepted that there was a risk of the fire spreading and people getting hurt but that these could not be accepted as aggravating features of the incident as they were typical features of an arson case and no one was harmed.  A  sentence of six years was considered appropraite by the judge who gave connor a two year discount for his guilty plea. The judge also ordered that Connor's time in custody would be taken into consideration.


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Category: Crime

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