Man acquitted of murder in 2014 among those charged in northwest London arson probe

The front of London Police headquarters. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

A London, Ont., resident who made headlines nearly eight years ago when he was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in 2011 was one of two people arrested and charged with arson this week in connection with property damage and a garage and vehicle fire at a northwest London home.

Police allege that a home on Coronation Drive was targeted over a period of nearly two hours early Tuesday morning.

It’s alleged that a suspect damaged the tires of a vehicle parked on the road around 3:20 a.m., damaged windows of the home around 4 a.m., and then set fire to the home’s garage and the vehicle around 5 a.m., police said.

Fire crews extinguished the blaze, and police say the home’s resident, who was known to the accused, received threatening text messages after reporting the fire.

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All three incidents were caught on camera, and police say they determined the same suspect was responsible for the damage, which cost approximately $21,500.

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Later that morning, around 11:20 a.m., officers stopped a vehicle in the 1200-block of Fanshawe Park Road West, east of Hyde Park Road, which then tried to take off, police said.

“The driver of the vehicle attempted to flee from police, and struck several vehicles prior to be arrested. A male passenger was also arrested,” police said in a statement.

The driver of the vehicle was taken into custody for several outstanding warrants, police said.

The two accused, both from London, identified as Denzel Borden, 30, and Gregory Wayne Rowles, 37, are jointly charged with arson with disregard for human life, arson causing property damage, criminal harassment by combination of prohibited conduct, and two counts of mischief under $5,000.

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Police say Borden faces additional offences, including extortion, uttering threats of death or bodily harm, impaired operation of a conveyance, operation of a conveyance while prohibited, and failure to comply with a demand made by a peace officer.

Borden was scheduled to appear in court on Friday while Rowles was released from custody, expected to appear in court July 21.

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In 2014, Borden was acquitted of second-degree murder in the October 2011 shooting death of Thi Tran, 40.

Though acquitted of murder — his lawyer successfully argued Borden had fired the gun in self-defence — the then 22-year-old was convicted on a charge of possessing a loaded prohibited firearm.

He was sentenced to five years behind bars, a term which was effectively shortened to a month and a half with time served.

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