B.C. man who lit friend on fire didn't mean to burn him: Judge
CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:27AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 8:29PM PST
The Kelowna man who deliberately lit his drunk friend on fire at a house party last year will serve jail time for the crime.
Matthew Sweet-Grant, 20, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail, minus the three months he has spent in custody since the Dec. 2012 incident. He will also serve two years probation.
The 20-year-old poured after shave on to a sleeping 18-year-old man as he lay unconscious on the kitchen floor during a late-night house party at a run-down Kelowna townhouse complex. He then lit the victim’s back on fire.
Tyler Weir was hospitalized and treated for second and third-degree burns.
Sweet-Grant was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
Joshua McWhirter, 18, was also charged for allegedly videotaping the incident. He is awaiting trial.
Investigators say Sweet-Grant participated in similar attacks in the past. Posts on his Facebook page showed about a dozen people with various parts of their bodies or clothing in flames. All of the people appeared to be willing participants.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Anne Wallace acknowledged that the crime was unacceptable but said it wasn’t done with any intention to burn the victim.
"I'm satisfied that he accused didn't have any intent to burn the skin of Mr. Weir," she said.
Wallace told Sweet-Grant she handed him a lighter sentence because he pleaded guilty, showed genuine remorse and there were no aggravating factors. A Crown lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of six to eight years.
Susan Allen, Sweet-Grant’s stepmother, told CTV he’s a “good kid,” but comes from “bad circumstances.”
“I hope everybody understands we did want him to do time,” she told CTV reporter Kent Molgat outside the Kelowna courtroom.
“And we're glad he only got this much time. We hope he gets the help he needs and we do love him.”
Sweet-Grant must not contact his victim, possess firearms or enter an establishment where liquor is the primary sales item. He must complete 20 hours of community service by speaking in high school about the danger of pranks.