July 14th, 2024

Man pleads to mischief for February grassfire near Gas City Campground

By Peggy Revell on July 7, 2017.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

A man charged with arson over a grassfire in an open field by the Gas City Campground and Clarion Hotel pled guilty to a lesser charge of mischief Friday.

Sentencing for Wesley Vanbocquestal, 61, is now set for Oct. 4, as the man’s defence counsel requested a pre-sentencing report — something that can take a few months for local probation officers to put together.

The report is appropriate, defence counsel told the court, as it can take into account how in recent months Vanbocquestal has been meeting with probation officers and addictions counsellors who have had positive reports of him, and he is also working to get into a treatment centre.

Vanbocquestal was originally charged with arson and possessing incendiary material after a grassfire on Feb. 18, just after 5 p.m., with emergency crews responding to extinguish the blaze. Police stated that no one was injured in the fire and none of the surrounding buildings were damaged. The facts surrounding the incident will be officially read into the record at Vanbocquestal’s sentencing later this year.

Vanbocquestal originally entered not guilty pleas to the charges in March of this year, and had a trial set for July 7, despite not having yet secured legal counsel. The trial was cancelled once he obtained a lawyer.

Vanbocquestal also entered guilty pleas Friday to breaching conditions of his probation, including not reporting a change of address, failing to report to probation, having a pocket knife, and being in possession of alcohol and marijuana.

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