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B.C. arsonist who believed Freemasons were using 'mind control' sentenced to 40 months in prison


A man who told police he was "on a mission to address (the) Illuminati" has been sentenced to 40 months in prison in a Metro Vancouver arson case.

Benjamin Orion Carlson Kohlman was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to an arson spree that destroyed one Masonic hall on the morning of March 30, 2021 and damaged two others.

In her sentencing decision, Judge Laura Bakan noted the court had heard Kohlman told police his theories that the Freemasons "were using mind control on people” and the arsons were his way of drawing attention to his beliefs that “dark souls and evil were involved."

Bakan said the key factor appeared to be "psychosis triggered by drug use,” including ecstasy and marijuana.

His lawyer said Kohlman, who had no prior criminal record, was taking full responsibility for his actions.

“He communicated to me his apology for his actions, his understanding for the harm done, and his remorse for that,” Jessica Dawkins told CTV News.

In her sentence, which was more than defence asked for, but less than Crown’s proposal, the judge noted that what are known as Gladue principles applied, because of Kohlman’s Indigenous background.

Both Crown and defence agreed the crimes were not motivated by revenge or hate, but instead by Kohlman’s struggles with mental health and addictions.

The court also heard that Kohlman’s father had killed his mother, then died by suicide when he was five.

“He had a terrible upbringing and had many setbacks which brought him, to a certain extent to his lot in life,” Crown counsel Jonas Dow said. “So the judge has to balance out all of those."

Freemason Dave Goddard, with the Grand Lodge of B.C. and Yukon, called the sentence “appropriate” given Kohlman’s personal circumstances and said he hoped he would get the help he needed.

“We just hope that we’ll be able to rebuild and live within the communities peacefully, the way we have for hundreds of years,” Goddard said.

Kohlman pleaded guilty in September to three charges of intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire or explosion to two halls in North Vancouver, and one in East Vancouver, causing more than $2.5 million in damages.

As part of the plea, other charges, which included three counts of break-and-enter to commit arson, and the assault of an off duty peace officer who confronted and tried to arrest Kohlman, were stayed.

With credit for time served, lawyers said Kohlman should be released in less than two-and-a-half years. Top Stories

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