Toronto Star

Jan. 9, 2003. 01:00 AM

Mother jailed in arson case

Set fire that injured children Woman battling drug, alcohol use

BOB MITCHELL
PEEL/HALTON BUREAU CHIEF
Toronto Star

A woman has been sent to jail for a year for deliberately setting a fire last January that gutted her apartment and burned her two youngest children.

The 38-year-old woman, who also has a 10-year-old daughter, was ordered not to have any access to her children, who have since recovered from their injuries, unless her visits are supervised by the Children's Aid Society. Crying, the woman told a Brampton court yesterday she didn't intentionally burn her apartment and that she didn't try to kill her children.

"I love my children ... nobody can tell me my children don't love me," she said in an emotional outburst in a Brampton courtroom yesterday. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Although sympathetic to the woman's emotional and mental state, Mr. Justice Joseph De Filippis said he had "no choice" but to send her to jail because she was a "continuing danger" to the public because of her refusal to get help for her drug and alcohol problems. He also sentenced her to 36 months probation after her jail term.

The Star isn't publishing the woman's name in order to protect her children.

The woman twice walked out of treatment programs since getting bail in February, 2002.

Angry with her husband and high on cocaine, the woman set fire to his clothes about 2:30 a.m. and then ran outside their first-floor apartment on Argyle Rd. last Jan. 7, leaving her two youngest children, aged 5 and 6, asleep in their bedroom. Her daughter, then 9, managed to escape and was unharmed.

Although the children are now recovered physically, crown prosecutor Mara Bossa told the judge yesterday the children still suffer emotional scars.

The woman was initially charged with two counts of arson with disregard for human life causing bodily harm and one count of arson with disregard for human life.

She pleaded guilty last February to arson with disregard for human life and was ordered to undergo a six-month drug and alcohol treatment program. Yesterday, she pleaded guilty to breach of recognizance in the Dec. 14 incident after the assault charge was dropped. She was sentenced to another 30 days concurrently.

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