Five years for plot to blow up build­ing

SundayXtra - - TOP NEWS - By James Turner

A con­vict’s crude plan to blow up the down­town Win­nipeg apart­ment he was about to be evicted from has cost him five years of free­dom.

“I just didn’t think about what I was do­ing,” Joel Calder said, af­ter ad­mit­ting to an ar­son count for the ma­jor scare he caused on Assini­boine Av­enue last Au­gust. The ev­i­dence may sug­gest other­wise. Calder, 49, shoved six half-full ma­son jars of gaso­line in his oven the day be­fore he was to ap­pear at a hear­ing to be evicted, pros­e­cu­tor Dave Mann told provin­cial court.

He left the lid off one of the jars so the vapours would ig­nite, turned the oven to 400 C and fled, lock­ing the kitchen door be­hind him.

Some of the gaso­line fumes caught fire, leading to the out­break of a small fire.

Sharp-nosed oc­cu­pants no­ticed the smell and called their land­lord, who called 911. The dam­age was min­i­mal, with es­ti­mates rang­ing from $ 400 to $900.

But the prospect for calamity was huge, court heard. Emer­gency crews — in­clud­ing a haz-mat unit — rushed to the scene and took no chances. The en­tire block and one ad­ja­cent to it were evac­u­ated as a pre­cau­tion.

The scare prompted more than 30 per cent of the build­ing’s ten­ants to move out, its land­lord told Judge Tracey Lord in an im­pact state­ment.

She still feels afraid of what Calder’s ca­pa­ble of, Mann said.

“I be­lieve he would do his worst if given the op­por­tu­nity,” she wrote.

Calder had lived in the block for about eight years, de­fence lawyer Barry Sinder said.

It was only in Calder’s last six months of liv­ing there that there was any trou­ble. Calder ex­pe­ri­enced an on­set of episodes of “emo­tional stress and de­pres­sion,” said Sinder.

Calder per­son­ally apol­o­gized for what he said were his “ex­tremely self­ish ac­tions.”

Lord said he was just lucky there were no in­juries or ma­jor dam­age.

“That’s good for­tune — no credit to you, be­cause you walked away and let it all un­fold as it did,” she said. Calder is no stranger to vi­o­lent crime. In 1992, he was handed seven years for the at­tempted mur­der of a to­tal stranger. He at­tacked a woman who had shunned his ad­vances, stab­bing her many times.

The vic­tim had to jump from a sec­ond-floor win­dow to es­cape, Mann said. Calder served all seven years of his sen­tence.

Joel Calder

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