Arsonist deemed mentally ill

A man who lit the Osoyoos RCMP detachment on fire in July has been found not-criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Joseph Mcarthur-Pereira, 28, will be detained in a hospital until the B.C. Mental Health Review Board can determine the treatment required before his release, Judge Gregory Koturbash ruled Thursday.

In an incident observed by witnesses and surveillance cameras at the Osoyoos RCMP station on July 25 around 9:30 p.m., Mcarthur-Pereira dumped six dollars worth of gasoline around the front door of the detachment and lit it on fire. 

Two police officers working inside smelled burning and saw the building filled with smoke, walking outside to see a man with two water jugs talking on the phone. 

A passing motorist in an RV had spotted the fire and extinguished it. Mcarthur-Pereira then walked back around the corner of the building with an armload of cardboard. 

Defence lawyer James Pennington says his client felt he was “on a mission” to “liberate the souls of people” trapped inside the detachment.

“He had the idea firmly fixed that these people had died at the hands of the RCMP and the only way that they could be set free was to burn the detachment down,” Pennington said. “He saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he was doing.”

He noted Mcarthur-Pereira actually asked the police officers for their help placing more fuel on the fire when they confronted him.

“These are not the acts of someone with a rational mind. Clearly Mr. Mcarthur-Pereira was deranged at the time of the offence.”

A psychologists report came to the same conclusion — that Mcarthur-Pereira has been “chronically psychotic” for years and has had numerous admissions to the psych ward at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The psychologist was not able to determine what role Mcarthur-Pereira’s long standing methamphetamine addiction has played in his mental illness and if it is the root cause or just a contributing factor. 

“Nevertheless the chronicity tendency to occur and the negative impact on his social and occupational functioning suggests that this may not be entirely explained by substance use disorder, but a primary mental disorder,” Pennington read from the psychologist's report.

After ruling Mcarthur-Pereira not-criminally responsible for the charges of arson and mischief endangering life, Koturbash denied his bail request. 

The defence had proposed Mcarthur-Pereira live with his cousin in Penticton, but the judge ruled he was not satisfied the plan would do enough to protect the public.  

Mcarthur-Pereira is expected to meet with the B.C. Mental Health Review Board for the first time in between four to six weeks. Court heard he is now on medication and lucid.

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