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Natasha Parsons sentenced to two years less a day in jail after pleading guilty to arson
CORNER BROOK — A Corner Brook judge made reference to a Tasmanian report when he sentenced a Garnish woman for arson Monday
Natasha Parsons owned a gas station/convenience store with an apartment at the back in the Burin Peninsula community.
The enterprise was not a successful one and Parsons, according to Judge Wayne Gorman’s written decision, concocted a plan to set fire to the business on Nov. 20, 2019 in order to fraudulently obtain the proceeds of the $340,000 insurance policy she had purchased.
A 2012 report entitled "Arson and Deliberately Lit Fires by the Sentencing and Advisory Council of Tasmania" says the problem with doing that is there is a potential for the fire to spread to more than its intended target and lead to a more extreme outcome.
When the fire was extinguished it became apparent that it had been deliberately set. There were empty bottles of lighter fluid scattered over the floor and in the garbage. Two barbecue lighters were found on the floor.
Parsons, 42, was arrested June 20 and charged with arson. She subsequently entered a guilty plea to the charge.
Hearings were held in Corner Brook and Grand Bank and she was sentenced to two years less a day in jail to be followed by two years of probation. Gorman said it was an appropriate sentence because of the serious nature of her crime and to reflect her positive prospects for rehabilitation.
An agreed statement of facts says the Marystown RCMP received a report of a fire at Senior’s Seaside Convenience in Garnish at 8:47 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2019. The report was made by the occupant of the apartment at the back of the store.
After the fire was extinguished, it became apparent that it had been deliberately set. There were empty bottles of lighter fluid scattered over the floor and in the garbage. Two barbecue lighters were found on the floor.
Footage recovered from the store’s surveillance system showed a person dressed in all black enter the store at 7:45 a.m. The person, later identified as Parsons, unlocked the door with a key and turned off the alarm system with the code.
It then shows her pouring the lighter fluid on the floor, shelves and countertops. A fireball and burning ash appear at 7:50 a.m. A few minutes later, she is seen unrolling paper towel, placing it on the shelves and using an aerosol can to spread the flames.
Parsons first denied any involvement in the fire, but in a second caution statement to police, she confirmed it was her in the surveillance footage.
Parsons was in the process of buying the business through a rent-to-own arrangement. The business was struggling, and people owed her a significant amount of money.
She could not afford to buy gas to put into the pumps, pay herself or buy stock.
She said she watched the tenant and her children leave before setting the fire.
A presentence report indicates Parsons has mental health and addiction issues and that she is open to any treatment that could help her. She told the report’s author that she wanted to get rid of the shop because it was ruining her life.
The author also noted Parsons has remorse for what she did and feels embarrassed and ashamed. However, it was also noted there was vengeance in her actions related to her drug use. That vengeance, the author said, causes one to question her remorse.
Gorman said the circumstances of Parsons’ crime are grave and the potential for catastrophe was extremely high.
Her sentence was reduced by eight days to reflect the time spent in custody following her conviction on Oct. 14.