July 12th, 2024

Anger over eviction lands man jail sentence

By Lethbridge Herald on May 24, 2022.

Delon Shurtz
Lethbridge Herald

John Lorenz didn’t appreciate receiving an eviction notice, so he set fire to his neighbour’s apartment.

That earned him a two-month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge provincial court to one count of arson.

Lorenz, 59, received his eviction notice in March 2020 and following a subsequent altercation with a neighbour over a loud dog and other disturbances, he lit the eviction notice and put it inside his neighbour’s apartment.

The fire department was called to the apartment building where they smelled smoke and noticed debris outside one of the apartment doors. It wasn’t until the tenant heard a knock at his door and went to answer it, that he noticed a small fire on the floor. The resident apparently didn’t smell smoke from the fire because he was smoking marijuana, court was told.

The small fire burned a small area on the carpet and on the door about an inch and a half above the floor.

Crown Prosecutor James Rouleau said Lorenz admitted he “messed up” and that he shouldn’t have mixed his medications with alcohol. Lorenz was also struggling at the time with health issues, which were significantly exacerbated by recent surgery to amputate one of his legs.

“Mr. Lorenz had a lot going on at the time,” agreed duty counsel lawyer Brett Carlson. 

“He was immediately contrite; he immediately advised the officers that he was responsible and regretful.”

Lorenz told court the matter escalated from a simple dispute with his neighbour, who had a loud dog.

“The neighbour next door bought the biggest dog you have ever seen, and he lives in a bachelor suite, and I just got home from the hospital the day this happened,” Lorenz said.

Judge Michelle Christopher agreed with the sentence recommended by the Crown and defence, and told Lorenz he and others are lucky the consequences of his actions weren’t far worse.

“This is a very serious offence,” she told Lorenz. “It could have resulted in the loss of life to people, particularly given that something was set on fire in an apartment building, and the consequences could have been disastrous.”

Although Lorenz received a two-month jail term, he was given full credit for time he already spent in custody, effectively concluding his sentence.

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