Judge not convinced by joint submission for house arrest for Kamloops-area wildfire arsonist

Should firebug go to jail?

The lawyer representing a Kamloops firebug says "significant" news coverage of her charges and guilty plea should weigh in her favour when a judge is deciding whether to send her to jail.

Angela Elise Cornish, 42, was in court Monday for sentencing after earlier pleading guilty to one count of arson. Court heard she set a number of fires in the Kamloops area in the spring of 2022, and she was only caught when police put a covert surveillance team on her tail.

Mounties secretly followed Cornish for days, watching as she purchased fire-starting materials — charcoal, lighters and lighter fluid — and headed out into the woods.

Officials found eight spot fires after Cornish visited an area near Lac Le Jeune on May 7, 2022, and found three burning trees after she was back in the same area the following day. On May 11, 2022, Mounties found two fires burning in the Connolly Lake area after Cornish departed. She was then arrested.

In June, lawyers pitched a joint submission for time served and house arrest. Kamloops provincial court Judge Roy Dickey said he wasn’t convinced and asked for further submissions.

During a brief hearing Monday morning, defence lawyer Lana Walker urged Dickey to accept the plea deal. She cited the “lengthy and complicated trial” that was avoided when she pleaded guilty and the news coverage of Cornish as her case has wound through court.

“There has been significant media coverage of this file, and even since the submissions have been made there were news articles,” she said.

"That does have an impact on Ms. Cornish. It relates to specific deterrence. That is something I would ask the court to take into consideration.”

Dickey said he would consider the coverage a mitigating factor.

Cornish has been free on bail since May of 2022. She was released on strict conditions three weeks after her arrest, giving her credit for about a month behind bars.

A decision on Cornish’s sentence is expected as soon as next week.

She remains free on bail.

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