A Gatineau man accused of killing a 64-year-old woman whose home he was renovating met her while working in the local Rona store, according to the store's owner.


Patrick Dussault was formally charged with arson and second-degree murder on Thursday. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod/CBC)

Patrick Dussault, 38, was charged Thursday with second degree murder and arson in the death of Diane Lahaie, whose body was found in her burned-out home in July.

Gatineau police said Dussault was a "handyman" who was renovating Lahaie's home on Rue de Gaspé at the time of her death.

Martin Lacasse, the owner of both Rona stores in Gatineau, said Dussault was working at the building materials desk in the hardware giant's store when he met Lahaie.

"She came up to the building material counter to get some information and some building materials and I gather that's how they met together," said Lacasse.

Police say victim killed 2 days before fire

Lacasse said the store has a policy against employees taking on work with customers, but he said it is difficult to enforce.

"Humans are humans, they want to make a few more bucks, we don't follow everybody when they leave the business afterwards," said Lacasse.

Lahaie's neighbours told CBC News she had told them before her death she wasn't satisfied with the quality of Dussault's work and was thinking of asking for her money back.

Lahaie's body was discovered in her home on July 27. Police said she was killed with a "sharp object" before her house was set on fire.

The second-degree murder charge against Dussault is dated July 25, two days before Lahaie was found. The arson charged was dated July 27.

Accused was fired from store after 4 months

Patrick Dussault worked at the Rona for about four months until he was fired in June, said Lacasse.

"We did fire him as an employee to my store. He was a strange fellow and he was always lying about being late at the store," said Lacasse.

He said the incident highlights the perils of hiring a stranger to work under the table.

Louis-Pascale Cyr of the CCQ — the Quebec government body that licenses tradespeople, echoes that message, and said hiring a licensed contractor brings some peace of mind.

"Obviously, this system doesn't protect you from everything. But it is definitely a safeguard to make sure that the person you hire follows the rules and is in order," said Cyr.

Dussault returns to court Sept. 16.