One of five people charged in relation to an April 11, 2021, house fire on Bruce Avenue that killed three people received a 16-year sentence in a Sudbury courtroom on Thursday.
Phillippe Jeannotte’s eyes were seen red with tears following his sentencing, when he turned around to look at a small collection of supporters in the public gallery.
Defence lawyer Reid Rusonik pushed for a five-year sentence, while Crown attorney David Kirk submitted that 20 years of imprisonment would have been appropriate.
While reading a statement during Thursday’s sentencing, Judge Patrick Boucher became emotional while relaying to the court the impact of the fatal fire.
“It's clear to me (the families of the victims) will carry their sorrow,” he began, pausing for several seconds to collect his emotions before proceeding. “... and grief with them for the rest of their lives.”
Many details provided in recent court appearances, including Thursday’s sentencing, remain under a publication ban due to an impending judge-and-jury trial for another one of the accused, Liam Stinson. Sudbury.com will report on these details as soon as it’s legally possible to do so.
Jeannotte’s sentencing factors in time and a half for the 672 days he has already spent behind bars, which dates back to his arrest on April 29, 2021.
Shaving these three years off his 16-year sentence, Phillippe Jeannotte’s sentence is a net 13 years. It includes three concurrent manslaughter charges alongside a concurrent charge of arson causing bodily harm. He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample, and is prohibited from possessing firearms and other restricted firearms. While in custody, he is prohibited from contacting a long list of people whose names Boucher read to the court.
Jeannotte was also ordered to pay $250,000 to the City of Greater Sudbury in restitution for the three city-owned geared-to-income units on Bruce Avenue damaged in the fire.
Among the mitigating factors Boucher included in his sentencing of Jeannotte were his guilty pleas and his decision to waive a bail hearing and preliminary inquiry. Boucher also factored in the frequent lockdowns Jeannotte has already experienced while behind bars.
The Central North Correctional Centre had lockdowns for 71 days while Jeannotte was there, most of which were for the full day. During his time at the Sudbury District Jail, there were 52 lockdowns, of which 40 were for the full day.
“The records from CNCC confirm prisoners spend lockdowns in their cells and Sudbury District Jail confirms they make efforts to allow some time outside the cells such as for showers, but it is clear this would be on a limited basis,” Boucher said.
Jeannotte was also reportedly assaulted at the Sudbury District Jail in early 2022.
During his time behind bars, Jeannotte completed 12 self-help addiction recovery workbooks through the John Howard Society, and Boucher described his remorse as “genuine and profound.”
Various aggravating factors in Thursday’s sentencing are under the publication ban, and will be reported when it’s legally possible to do so.
The four co-accused in the fire include Riley Roy, Liam Stinson, Fern Bolduc and Jared Herrick.
Roy and Bolduc are having their charges dealt with in the Ontario Court of Justice. Sudbury.com is awaiting court insight on the latest status on their cases.
Stinson’s case is ongoing with the Superior Court of Justice, with trial dates yet to be set. Herrick’s case is also ongoing with the Superior Court of Justice, and he is expected to be sentenced on April 11, exactly two years after the fatal fire.
As reported at the time, Greater Sudbury police received a call from Greater Sudbury Fire Services at approximately 4:45 a.m. in response to a residential structure fire on Bruce Avenue.
Through an investigation, it was determined that there were four people inside the unit where the fire originated, of whom one, a 37-year-old man, escaped by jumping from a second-storey window.
Two people, including 50-year-old Guy Henri and Jasmine Somers, 26, were pronounced dead on the scene, while a third person, 33-year-old Jamie-Lynn Rose, sustained critical injuries and died a few days later after being airlifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Tyler Clarke is a reporter at Sudbury.com.