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Nova Scotia Motel Arson-Owner Accused

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  • Nova Scotia Motel Arson-Owner Accused

    AMHERST, N.S. (CP) - A motel owner accused of burning down part
    of his own motel says he can't explain how gasoline got on the
    jacket and boots he was wearing on the day of the fire.
    Richard Seymour, 44, of Fort Lawrence, N.S., made the comment
    Tuesday during his Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial on arson and
    fraud charges stemming from the Jan. 11, 2002, explosion and fire
    that destroyed the bar and grill portion of the Fort Lawrence
    Motel.
    Under cross-examination by Crown attorney Bruce Baxter, Seymour
    said he had worn the same jacket when he worked on his truck and
    filled it twice the day before. But he admitted he did not remember
    spilling gas on it or on his feet.
    In his summation, defence lawyer Jim O'Neil said the gas found
    on Seymour's clothing was a red herring because even the Crown's
    expert witness said the gas could have come in contact with the
    jacket and boots while Seymour was filling up his truck.
    In addition, O'Neil said, some witnesses' testimony that
    accelerants were used in fires in the motel's downstairs hallway
    and laundry and linen rooms could not be proved because the same
    expert said no gas residue was found in the debris. O'Neil
    suggested that flames falling from the ceiling could have started
    the scattered fires.
    Seymour also had no reason to set his motel on fire, his lawyer
    said.
    "His bills were paid up; his credit rating was good."
    Baxter disagreed. He said $650,000 in insurance money was an
    incentive and the evidence clearly indicates the fire was
    deliberately set.
    That evidence includes a propane gas line disconnected from a
    hot water heater and twisted pieces of orange bed linen that
    appeared to fire experts to be wicks or trailers used for spreading
    the flames.
    Expert evidence, Baxter said, showed that the burn patterns
    found in the basement hallway and rooms were consistent with fires
    started with an accelerant and not from flames falling from the
    ceiling.
    Baxter also rejected the defence's assertion that the explosion
    or efforts to put out the fire separated the propane line from the
    water heater.
    "That's putting the cart before the horse," Baxter said.
    He said three expert witnesses said the propane line had been
    deliberately bent away from the water heater, allowing gas to
    escape into the motel.
    The jury was expected to begin deliberations Wednesday.
    (Halifax
    Chronicle-Herald)


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