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.

Just Posted

Saanich’s 20-year-old acting mayor encourages other young people get involved in politics

There is a ‘hunger for young voices’ in politics right now

VicPD catches impaired driver near elementary school

Citizens alerted police to driver near James Bay Community School

Victoria’s Belfry Theatre hosts its first ‘relaxed performance’ for a diverse audience

Performance of Every Brilliant Thing is first to pilot the option

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

Most Read