An Oliver man has been found guilty of arson, after a judge was convinced by security footage and police identification.
Steven Marlo Gallagher, born in 1992, appeared in Penticton Provincial Court Friday for the conclusion of a multi-day trial during which the court had viewed four security camera videos and heard from multiple police officers relating to a purposely-set fire at the Oliver Pharmacy Remedy's Rx downtown.
Court heard that early in the morning on May 15, 2021, police were called to Galllagher's property after reports of gunfire, which Gallagher denied. After a look around the property, Gallagher reportedly became irritated with police, making disparaging comments and alleging police "don't like" him.
The two officers returned to the detachment and, closer to 4 a.m., they heard what sounded like gunshots outside, and observed a green truck speeding away that looked like one they had seen on Gallagher's property. Bullet holes were later found in some parked police vehicles.
Then, police became aware that firefighters were mustering to deal with reports of a vehicle on fire downtown. When he responded to the scene shortly after 4 a.m., Cpl. Paul Symons recalled thinking to himself, "That looks to be the same truck that just left the [detachment]."
Then, fire crews noticed that across the street, the pharmacy was on fire too.
As firefighters worked on that, Symons patrolled the area, and saw a vehicle parked, and again heard the explosive sounds he had heard at the detachment. The vehicle sped away, in a direction that could have reasonably led to Gallagher's property.
Surveillance footage from outside and inside the pharmacy showed a man, positively identified by police on the witness stand as Gallagher, a man with whom they have had multiple dealings and who has "distinctive facial and bodily features."
The video shows the man breaking in, lighting merchandise on fire, then stopping to grab a drink from the cooler at the front before leaving through the smashed door.
The pharmacy suffered extensive damage and was closed for months.
While Gallagher pleaded not guilty and his lawyer attempted to question the identifications made using the surveillance videos, the judge decided the Crown had proven its case and declared Gallagher guilty.
The judge ordered a Gladue report, a legal tool in Canada that provides courts with information on the unique circumstances of Indigenous offenders, before pronouncing his sentence. Gallagher is a member of the Osoyoos Indian Band.
Gallagher remains in custody. He has another pending sentencing, for a Canada Day shooting that left a 22-year-old Maple Ridge man with injuries.