Man accused of trying to burn down B.C. business to receive addiction treatment: judge

Man accused of trying to burn down B.C. business to receive addiction treatment: judge

A Kaslo-area man has been taken into the custody of an alcohol treatment facility while awaiting trial on multiple charges.

A Kelowna judge directed Alejandro Calderon to the VisionQuest Recovery Society’s treatment center near Logan Lake, where he must follow strict rules if he does not want to go to jail. Logan Lake is over 400 kilometers from Kaslo, near Kamloops.

Provincial Court Judge David Ruse made the decision Friday during a remote video bail hearing for Calderon.

Calderon was charged on December 5 after a man got into an altercation with employees at Home Hardware in Kaslo, returned later in the day and smashed the glass in the store’s front door with an axe. While staff were still in the store, the man stuffed a can of gasoline through the broken glass and set it on fire. He was confronted by a passerby, and several other men arrived shortly after and doused the flames.

The store has been closed since the incident.

Calderon was actually out on bail at the time of the incident on an assault charge that resulted from a confrontation with a woman earlier this year. He now faces charges of arson on occupied property in connection with the Home Hardware incident.

“The files before the court are not mere impulsive acts, but appear to be acts which Mr. Calderon commits after some thought,” QC Attorney Ann Lerch said, arguing that Calderon should remain behind bars. “The first is assault by assault [in February] … where he seems upset because he was asked to leave … and that escalates and ends in violence.”

The second indictment, dated December 5, caused even greater concern for the Crown, she said.

“Mr. Calderon is clearly upset that he was denied duty at Home Hardware…and returned a few hours later and acted in a baseless and potentially violent and dangerous manner…it is coincidental that no one was hurt by his actions that day would.”

Lerch also noted that Calderon had nine criminal convictions and two peace covenants were served against him.

“The record shows violence in the form of assault, threatening behavior and mischief, as well as a violation of a probation order,” she told the court. “However, I would like to note that this record is relatively short and somewhat outdated. But what is relevant is that the offenses shown here appear to be reflected in the behavior we see today in the file here in court.”

Calderon’s attorney, Don White, said his client had lived in Kaslo since 2017 and felt increasingly isolated after the attack in February 2022 as he was talked about in the small community.

He said Calderon’s problems stemmed from alcohol abuse and that he was a much better person when he was sober.

“All I can say, Your Honor, is that once Mr Calderon had sobered up and had the opportunity to detox, he seemed genuine in his belief that he had been under the fog from his alcohol consumption for about a year .” White told the court that. “He really wants help.”

White noted that if Calderon were allowed to attend treatment at VisionQuest, he would be a long way from the complainants and the store where the incident occurred.

He noted that Calderon also plans to sell his property near Kaslo and move permanently when his treatment at VisionQuest ends in about six months.

Those conditions were met by Judge Ruse, who said the presumption of innocence was essential and the onus was to prove that there was a significant likelihood that Calderon would commit another offense or pose a danger to the public if released.

“Arrest [instead of release on bail] is the exception…” he said. “Mr. White says that this bailout plan will reduce those risks to acceptable levels. I’m inclined to agree.”

Ruse noted that Calderon hasn’t had any problems for five years, “an indication that he’s capable of being in a community without committing a crime.”

“The facility offered is remote, 400 kilometers from the community where Mr. Calderon resides…the area that gave rise to these crimes. And by that I mean his perception of isolation.

“It was designed to solve his addiction problem which if addressed should minimize any problems he is having. For these reasons, I am willing to release him to VisionQuest.”

Arrangements have been made for Calderon to be immediately transferred to the Kamloops Regional Correctional Center for pickup by a VisionQuest representative.

“But I want to be absolutely clear that this has to be a seamless transition,” Ruse warned. “He is to be taken to the VisionQuest facility by a representative of the VisionQuest Recovery Society, and he will not leave that facility until this matter has been addressed through a court hearing or otherwise.”

Calderon must complete any programs given to him at the facility, must not leave the facility without his parole officer’s approval, and must remain sober. He must be unarmed, stay away from accelerant and other fire starters, and have no contact with any Kaslo Home Hardware employee or any of the complainants or witnesses in either of his cases.

Calderon’s next appearance on his recent charges related to the Kaslo Home Hardware incident is January 3 in Nelson. He will then be tried in a Nelson courtroom on January 6 for assault in February.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the VisionQuest Recovery Society is located in Savona, BC. The facility is actually located in Logan Lake.


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