Charge against senior to be upgraded after fire victim dies
The Crown will upgrade criminal charges against a senior accused of arson in a care facility fire following the death of a fellow resident.
Prosecutor Tom Buglas said outside court Monday that he will be increasing the charge against 78-year-old Robert Eyre, who currently faces an allegation of arson causing bodily harm.
“The Crown will be laying an information that speaks to the fact that the victim of this matter is deceased,” Buglas told Postmedia, after a brief court appearance addressing the case.
Buglas said he will have to review the file before determining whether the appropriate charge will be manslaughter, or criminal negligence causing death.
Court heard that an assessment by Dr. Yuri Metelitsa determined the dementia-suffering accused is medically unfit to stand trial.
As a result, a court hearing will have to be set to get a ruling on whether Eyre meets the legal test for a finding that he is unfit, Buglas said.
Under the Criminal Code, a person is unfit to stand trial if he can’t understand the proceedings or instruct counsel.
Defence lawyer Vince Semenuk appeared on behalf of Eyre’s lawyer, Matt Deshaye, to ask that the latter be removed as counsel of record. Semenuk told provincial court Judge Mike Dinkel the lawyer was only retained to handle a bail hearing, which now won’t be proceeding in the near future.
Eyre’s adult children have applied to Legal Aid to have a new lawyer appointed.
Eyre was charged with arson after an early morning fire April 27 at the Wentworth Manor on 14 Avenue S.W. sent fellow resident John Bannatyne to hospital.
Police announced last Friday the victim had died of his injuries and the case was now being investigated as a homicide.
Eyre, who is currently housed at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre, did not appear in court. His case will be back in court later this month.