Brandon Seberras-Pick was drunk and high on mushrooms when he torched a house occupied by a young family, a Kelowna court heard Wednesday.
RCMP say the teen went on a brief crime spree in Black Mountain last winter, breaking into one house, setting fire to another and endangering the parents and two children inside.
The case against him may collapse, however, because a judge could throw out the statement he gave a Mountie later that day.
Residents called 911 to report a break-in at 1549 Feedham Ave. and a fire at 1665 Large Ave. just before 2 a.m. Feb. 16 last year. Police received the reports two minutes apart.
The people living at the Feedham house told officers they chased the intruder south along Loseth Road to Lynrick Road. They said he was Caucasian, had an afro haircut and wore a striped hoodie. He carried a white plastic bag.
A sniffer dog tracked him to a house in the area. Police arrested Seberras-Pick, then 18, inside the home where a friend lived. Officers found the plastic bag contained a waffle iron and food taken from the Feedham house, court heard.
Investigators suspect he set fire to the Large Avenue house shortly before the break-in. Homeowner Robert Vukic woke up to a popping noise downstairs. It turned out to be balloons for one of his kids' birthday party exploding in the heat.
Vukic, a volunteer firefighter, saw flames on the deck outside and woke up his wife, his son and daughter, ages 10 and 12. He emptied two fire extinguishers to calm the fire. He threw water on it to no avail.
By the time firefighters arrived and doused the blaze, it had caused $200,000 damage inside and outside the house. The family lived elsewhere for three months until the house was fixed.
Const. Collier Henneberry allowed Seberras-Pick to talk to a Legal Aid lawyer, who advised him to say nothing about the fire or break-in. In a taped interview, the officer asked him about what had happened.
Seberras-Pick complained about a headache from drinking and eating magic mushrooms, and said at least seven times his lawyer told him to say nothing about the allegations.
Eventually, he admitted to the break-and-enter and arson, and said he had tried to torch a parked car.
Wednesday was the third day of Seberras-Pick's trial.
His lawyer, David Johnson, argues the statement to police is inadmissible because Henneberry breached his right to have a lawyer with him when talking about the case. Judge Jane Cartwright is expected to make her ruling at a later date.