Man found guilty of 2015 logging equipment arson incident north of Campbell River

A man was found guilty of setting a fire to and damaging a log loader and grapple yarder that were being used in the Red Baron logging operation north of Campbell River in March of 2015.

Robert Nelson was found guilty of arson damaging property and mischief to property over $5,000 on April 6, 2017.

The trial, which began on Dec. 9, 2015, heard two different stories of what Nelson was up to on the evening of March 7, 2015.

Nelson himself claimed he spent the evening with his ex-girlfriend Angela Nice. He said they went out for dinner in Courtenay and spent the evening cruising around Campbell River. Nice also testified, providing Nelson with an alibi.

However, the Crown presented an alternate scenario that Judge Barbara Flewelling found proved Nelson’s offences beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tanya Turner, who Nelson was living with at the time, said Nelson drove her, in her vehicle, out to the logging operation and she watched him smash up the machinery and set fire to it.

The Crown also brought forward forensic evidence that supported Turner’s version of events.

Sgt. Shelly Massey, forensic identification specialist with the Campbell River RCMP, processed shoe prints, tire treads and cigarette butts that were found at the scene of the crime.

Turner and Nelson’s DNA were found on the cigarette butts. Massey also determined that Turner’s car could have made the tire treads at the scene and Nelson and Turner’s shoes could have made the footprints at the scene.

The Crown also presented witnesses who worked on the site. Their versions of events contradicted what Nelson said when he was trying to explain why shoe prints and tire treads that looked like his and Turner’s were at the scene.

The owner of the operation, Joseph Graham also testified. He said that prior to the fire, the grapple yarder had broken down and no work had taken place on the site the three days before the damage was done. He estimated that he would suffer a loss of $500,000 on the grapple yarder and $10,000 on the log loader. He said he did not expect to recoup that amount from his insurance.

Flewelling found Nelson guilty on all counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 16, 2017.