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Penticton man accused of arson pleads guilty to breaching release after getting caught with lighter

Owen Winchester will remain in jail until his trial in June
The garage next to the Theo’s Restaurant parking lot that was allegedly set on fire by a suspect who was arrested on Sept. 18. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)

The man accused of starting a fire behind Theo’s restaurant in downtown Penticton will be staying in jail ahead of his trial.

Owen Dean Winchester pleaded guilty on March 15 to breaching his bail conditions and obstructing a peace officer after he was caught with a lighter and tried to get rid of it in August 2021.

Under the conditions of his release in March 2021, related to the arson charges from 2020, Winchester was banned from possessing lighters, matches or any other incendiary devices.

A dumpster had been set on fire on Aug. 30, 2020, which spread to a fence and then the garage attached to a home. One occupant of the home was treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital following the blaze.

The trial for that case is currently scheduled for June 2023.

READ MORE: Bench warrant issued for Penticton man charged with arson

Three officers stopped Winchester to talk with him in August 2021 after he skipped out on a court and while talking they saw a lighter in his hand against the terms of his release.

Winchester then tossed the lighter down a nearby storm drain before the officers could seize it.

According to defence, the reason Winchester had the lighter was because of his addiction to heroin and the need for a lighter to smoke the drug.

The only convictions on his criminal record prior to the charges of arson were for a breach of a police order in January 2022, and a breach of an undertaking in April 2021, for which he received a seven-day jail sentence and a 15-day jail sentence respectively.

Crown was seeking 90 days jail, while defence sought 45 days.

The judge felt that neither request was appropriate and split the difference with a 60-sentence, which ended up being time served.

Winchester is currently still in custody ahead of his June trial.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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