Former Armstrong, B.C., woman to be sentenced for arsons

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A former Armstrong woman was in a Vernon courtroom on Tuesday morning for a sentencing hearing on four arson charges.

Colette Leneveu, 61, previously entered guilty pleas to four counts of arson damaging property in connection with a string of fires in Armstrong in 2018.

Read more: Armstrong, B.C. woman enters guilty pleas to string of 2018 arsons

The most damaging fire burnt an attached garage, causing significant damage to the adjacent home.

Two of the fires hit the same property on back-to-back nights.

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On Tuesday morning, Leneveu’s lawyer told the court she was not targeting anyone with the fires, but rather they started as an irrational call for help while she was experiencing mental distress.

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Court heard Leneveu was struggling with her mental health prior to the fires but was receiving professional help and was working through a therapeutic course where she confronted the sexual abuse she was the victim of in childhood.

However, her lawyer, said this attempt to address the trauma only lead to her becoming more distressed.

Defence council said at one point in something of a “dream state” she saw her past abusers and in a panic left her house and set fires as a way to call for help.

Court heard, at one point, she called 911 to report one of the fires she later plead guilty to starting.

Her lawyer told the court when she set other fires several days later she was operating on the skewed logic that this was a way to show the community that the fires were signals for getting herself help.

Leneveu’s lawyer argued her moral culpability for the crime should be diminished because of the mental state she was in at the time of the fires.

She issued a tearful apology in court for her actions.

“I so very much apologize to the court and to the people of Armstrong for all the distress that I have caused. It was not my intent to involve people,” Leneveu said.

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She told the court she feels she has since been able to address the memories that she was previously struggling with.

The case resumes this afternoon when a sentence is expected.


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