An Edmonton mother and corporal at CFB Edmonton has been charged with the attempted murder of her three children, by setting fire to her home while they slept inside.
Chantal Condie, 41, faces two counts of arson and three counts of attempted murder in connection with a house fire on the base on July 20, 2015. She was only charged in August.
He ex-husband, Drew Condie, who is also a member of the military, cannot speak publicly about the case. He believes his persistence forced military police to launch a criminal investigation after they initially concluded the fire was an accident.
On behalf of his children, Drew Condie is suing his ex-wife for more than $540,000.
“It should not have been buried,” said Catherine Christensen, Drew Condie’s lawyer. “It should have been thoroughly investigated at the time.
The Canadian Armed Forces confirm the military police investigation was closed without charges but reopened when new evidence was brought forward.
According to the civil suit, filed earlier this year, Drew and Chantal Condie were in the process of a divorce and Drew had been granted primary custody of the children, to begin July 24, 2015, after a week-long summer camp.
The lawsuit claims Chantal Condie cancelled the camp, saying the children were sick, then took them to stay at Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall for three nights.
“This ‘great’ weekend was in preparation for the defendant’s ultimate plan of killing them and herself through fire,” the statement of claim alleges.
It says she took the children to her home on the base, gave them NyQuil to make them sleepy, put them to bed, then set the fire. When the oldest child, then 10, woke up smelling smoke, his mother sent him back to bed.
“She told him that it was wildfire smoke and to go back to sleep,” Christensen said.
“He chose to instead get his younger brother and younger sister out through the second-storey window onto the roof of the entryway into the house.
According to the lawsuit, a neighbour brought a ladder and rescued the children, who were unharmed. It said Chantal Condie was inside, unconscious, and was carried out by a neighbour.
The lawsuit also claims Chantal Condie removed and disabled smoke detectors, and sent a suicide letter with $10,000 to a man, whose wife later turned the letter over to police.
The insurance company that investigated after the fire found three smoke detectors in a bag in Chantal Condie’s basement, the claim says.
None of the allegations has been tested in court. In a statement of defence, Chantal Condie denies the claims and says it was her ex-husband or one of the kids who started the fire.
She denies writing a suicide note or leaving money to anyone.
She alleges the children’s father has a history of mental illness, alcohol dependency and violence towards her and the children.
Drew Condie denies the claims. He does acknowledge that he was charged with assaulting his daughter in 2012, but the charge was withdrawn and he agreed to a peace bond.
Christensen said her client lived in “terror” for nearly a month after the fire, when Chantal Condie was allowed to see their children, without supervision.
“I can’t imagine the anguish that he had every time his children went to spend unsupervised time with their mother.”
Christensen said she intends to fight in court for Chantal Condie’s supervised visits with the children to end. She also questioned why the accused is still wearing a uniform and working at CFB Edmonton.
“The member is currently back to work,” said Capt. Bonnie Wilken, a spokesperson with the Canadian Armed Forces.
“The member has been restricted from accessing weapons.”
Wilken said Condie joined the Armed Forces in 2007. She’s a supply technician with 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron and has not been deployed.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is a responsible organization,” Wilken said in a statement. “If one of our members is convicted of a serious crime, that person will be held accountable for their actions.”
Christensen, who specializes in law for military members, said the lengthy delay before criminal charges were laid in this case has shaken her confidence.
“The military justice system has come under criticism the last few years and this is, to me, just another example of, ‘Well, if we don’t want to deal with it, we’ll just bury it.'”
Condie has been granted bail and is scheduled to appear in court on the attempted murder and arson charges on Thursday.