6 months for arson

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 195 days in jail for setting fire to a house in Princeton while he was inside.

Nathan Kale Lipus was before Justice Gregory Koturbash in Penticton court Thursday, facing several charges in several cities, including causing a disturbance, assault with a weapon, four counts of uttering threats, resisting arrest and arson. 

Lipus pleaded guilty to all charges. 

Crown counsel Nashina Devji described how on Dec. 21, 2014, Lipus, who has struggled with drugs and alcohol, called RCMP to a house in Princeton because he believed people were chasing him. 

At different times, Lipus apparently believed there to be between three and hundreds of people trying to kill him. He refused RCMP requests to leave the house, disbelieving that it was safe outside. 

He eventually began to threaten to light the house on fire, and almost simultaneously flames were visible from the kitchen of the home. 

Lipus still did not exit the home, but appeared in several windows of the house, taunting firefighters as they marshalled to fight the fire. 

Eventually, he came close enough that emergency crews were able to pull him from a window and place him in handcuffs. 

The fire caused extensive damage to the home, estimated to be in the range of $150,000 to $165,000. 

A psychiatric assessment completed while he was in custody determined Lipus may suffer from serious mental health issues, which were exacerbated by his drug use. He will undergo a forensic psychiatric assessment while in custody. 

The assault with a weapon charge stemmed from an incident preceding the arson, when Lipus threw a pen at his probation officer's face. He was sentenced to one day for that charge. 

Koturbash said mitigating circumstances included Lipus' young age, the fact he was remorseful, did not have a lengthy criminal record previous to these offences, had taken some courses and had been abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and that he pleaded guilty to all charges. 

The initial sentence was for 13 months or 390 days, but with enhanced credit for time served, the sentence was reduced to 195 days and two years probation. 


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