The suspect charged in connection with the arson at Hornby Island Community School has pleaded guilty to the charge.
Bridge Shannon Warwick was sentenced in provincial court in Courtenay on Dec. 22 on a charge of arson.
Judge Ronald Lamperson gave Warwick a conditional sentence of 66o days in addition to a three-year probation order. The sentence also included a mandatory lifetime firearms ban and a discretionary DNA order requiring Warwick to provide a sample for an offenders’ database.
The case was originally going to go to trial in December 2019. Warwick had been arrested following the fire on Aug. 26, 2018 that forced the school district to find temporary space for students. There had been a publication ban on evidence from his bail hearing.
At the time of the incident, crews arrived in the early morning hours to find the fire fully involved at the front of the building. Others helped the Hornby Island department including BC Ferries and the Denman Island department. The firefighters and community members worked to save much of the school, but it could no longer be used.
Police determined a short time later that the fire was no accident.
“Investigators can now confirm that the fire is suspicious in nature and they have identified a person of interest in connection with that fire,” Comox Valley RCMP Const. Monika Terragni, media relations officer, said in a news release at the time.
This fall, School District 71 officially opened the new school on Hornby Island, after the Ministry of Education approved the replacement school with a full-size gymnasium to serve different community users on Hornby Island. At the ceremony, speakers recounted the community’s efforts in responding to the fire and the challenges of working toward a new school, starting out with finding temporary space. Area A director Daniel Arbour, who represents the area, said it was quite emotional to recount that “fateful day in August” three years earlier when the fire happened.
“In the first few days, everybody converged,” he said at the opening. “Everyone was like, school’s happening…. In a matter of days, we’d secured a hall, we called Telus to bring fibre optic, we had all this work done in just a few days to make sure that the kids could continue.”