Surprise guilty plea in fast food restaurant blast
Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca
Published Monday, March 14, 2011 6:24PM PDT
A B.C. man has entered a surprise guilty plea to an arson charge in the massive explosion at a Taco del Mar restaurant in Vancouver three years ago.
Kamaljeet Singh Josan was charged with two counts of arson in connection to the February 2008 blast at the fast-food restaurant on West Broadway.
The 33-year-old Surrey resident pleaded guilty to one count in Vancouver provincial court on Monday and prosecutors will not proceed with the second charge, Crown spokesman Neil McKenzie told ctvbc.ca.
Josan will return to court for sentencing on June 13.
Police say the fire was started with an accelerant, causing an explosion that sent glass and crushed metal flying across the street. The blast was felt as far away as a sixth-floor hotel room down the block.
The fire caused $2 million worth of damage to the restaurant, as well as a nearby Starbucks coffee shop, clothing store and dollar store.
Josan allegedly took two taxi cabs to escape the scene of the crime, but later checked himself into hospital for treatment of burns to 40 per cent of his body. Police tracked him down shortly afterward.
He was charged after his release from hospital, but those charges were stayed in 2009 because of gaps in police evidence. Prosecutors recommenced the file on the same charges in January 2010.
The co-owner of the restaurant, Manjeet Nandha, was found dead in an apparent suicide several days after the arson attack in the Squamish area of Furry Creek.
Police identified Josan as a friend of Nandha and her husband Harjit.