A Winnipeg man has pleaded guilty to some of the 22 arson charges he faced in connection with a series of fires in the city's Fort Rouge and River Heights neighbourhoods last year.
Brandon Sutyla, 21, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to nine counts of arson as part of a plea bargain. The remaining 13 charges were dropped as a result.
The fires took place between May 1 and July 26, 2011, mostly in Fort Rouge and River Heights. At least one fire was reported near the University of Manitoba.
Court heard that there was no evidence against Sutyla other than his own confession. After he was arrested on Aug. 2, 2011, Sutyla showed police the properties he claimed to have set ablaze.
"He suffers from a variety of cognitive deficits. He's mentally challenged, he has ADHD and some other impairments," Martin Glazer, Sutyla's lawyer, told reporters outside court Tuesday.
Glazer said his client spent 40 days at the Headingley Correctional Centre, and each day there was a challenge.
"There's a variety of things that happen in jail to people, like my client, who are mentally handicapped. They get taken advantage of," he said.
Convicted in 2009 arsons
Sutyla was convicted in connection with another string of arsons in 2009 and placed on probation. A confession was the only evidence against him in that case as well.
The judge presiding over the latest case accepted a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers for a two-year conditional sentence that Sutyla will serve in his mother's home.
Sutyla has been under house arrest since he was released from custody on Sept. 9, 2011.
Conditions of Sutyla's sentence will include undergoing counselling, not possessing any incendiary devices, and not going to any of the addresses where he is accused of setting the fires.
Sutyla will also be subjected to a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless he is accompanied by his mother or he seeks exemptions for employment purposes.
Sutyla and his mother declined comment as they were leaving the Winnipeg courthouse.