Sarnia man jailed two years after firefighters find dead dog, sick cat in his apartment


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The Sarnia firefighters found a disgusting scene after putting out a small fire in a residential unit on London Road about six months ago.

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Terry Bridge James water. (Facebook) Delivered

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The Sarnia firefighters found a disgusting scene after putting out a small fire in a residential unit on London Road about six months ago.

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A dog was dead in a cage – but not because of the fire.

“The bottom of the steel cage was completely covered with feces and dog fur. There was no dog food in the cage and the only water the dog had while it was alive was a small water bottle attached to the side of the wire cage, much like a guinea pig, ”assistant Crown attorney Ryan Iaquinta said Monday a courtroom in Sarnia.

Firefighters also found a cat on April 19.

“It was extremely thin and lethargic. The litter box was completely overflowing with faeces and the fire brigade couldn’t find any food, ”said Iaquinta.

Police learned that 20-year-old James Waters was the tenant, but he hadn’t been seen there in about a month. They found him at his mother’s house later that day.

“He was hiding under his mother’s cellar stairs without his mother knowing about it,” Iaquinta said.

Waters, now 21, pleaded guilty to Zoom out of Sarnia Prison on Monday for animal abuse and arson – he started fire that Monday – along with a second arson and asphyxiation charge. The last two incidents occurred less than two weeks later at his mother’s house on College Avenue South.

He was jailed for almost two years.

Judge Anne McFadyen said the fires – both caused more than $ 30,000 in damage – and the attack on his mother were substantial.

“Along with the neglect of animals,” said the judge. “All of these matters are extremely worrying.”

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Waters started the first fire by placing a coat on a kitchen trash can, dousing hand sanitizer, and setting it on fire. After he was arrested and released, he started arguing with his mother on April 28th while they were both sitting on chairs in their home.

“As the argument continued, Mr. Waters became upset, approached his mother on the deck chair and began slapping her repeatedly in the face,” said Iaquinta. “He then put both hands around her neck and started choking her.”

He also made two threatening comments when she tried to get away from him, but then she realized she was bleeding.

“Mr. Waters immediately regretted his actions and told his mother that he would take her to the hospital,” said Iaquinta.

However, when he went upstairs to get his shoes, she ran out the front door and drove to the hospital herself. After she left, Waters took a metal canister of oily liquid from the garage, poured it over his mother’s belongings in the living room, lit them, and left.

The woman lost nearly $ 32,000 in property – most of it was covered by insurance, aside from her $ 1,000 deductible – while a damage broker estimated the total damage to be more than $ 300,000.

During his arrest later that night, Waters asked the police a question.

“‘Are you all right?” Said Iaquinta. “He then asked about the crime scene tape around (her) College Avenue South (home) and said that if he were a cop he would suspect himself.”

Both a sentencing report and a psychiatrist report were written for Waters, who had no criminal record. The latter document stated that he was feeling “depressed and suicidal” at the time and had a history of mental health problems. He also felt “marginalized” at this time, but was sober and aware of his actions.

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The psychiatrist came to the conclusion that he was “suitable to stand before the court”.

“My client has experienced extreme regrets and remorse for his actions,” said defense attorney James Guggisberg.

Waters turned briefly to the court.

“I just want to say that I apologize for my actions,” he said while sitting in a small room in jail wearing a blue mask and orange clothes.

Both lawyers called for Waters to be taken to a facility such as the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Center, where he can seek treatment for his “various diseases.” The judge agreed to make the suggestion, though the final say rests with law enforcement officials, pointing out that there was “great hope” for Waters’ rehabilitation.

Waters was credited for 8.5 months in pre-trial detention. If released, he is placed on a three-year probation sentence, prohibiting him from contacting his mother or going to her home unless she gives her written consent. He is also banned from weapons, lighters, or anything that can start a fire, and must not own animals for 20 years.

The judge also attached three restitution orders: $ 30,000 to the property management company who owns the London Road apartment, $ 1,000 to his mother for her deductible, and $ 30,701.11 to the insurance company.

Other fees have been withdrawn.

The status of the cat given to the Sarnia and District Humane Society was not mentioned in court. A spokesman for the organization said via email on Monday: “The cat has recovered so well and has been adopted.”

tbridge@postmedia.com

@ObserverTerry

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