British Columbia

Merritt man pleads guilty to arson attack that destroyed historic Nicola Valley church

August Caprian has pleaded guilty to three counts of arson following a series of church fires in the Nicola Valley in January 2019. 

August Caprian pleaded guilty to 3 counts of arson, 1 count of break and enter after series of church fires

The Murray United Church was reduced to rubble after a suspicious fire on Jan. 11, 2019. (Pam Taylor)

A Merritt, B.C., man has pleaded guilty to three counts of arson following a series of church fires in the Nicola Valley in January 2019. 

August Caprian also pleaded guilty to one count of break and enter with intent at a fourth church.

One of the churches lost in the fires was the historic Murray United Church, located on Highway 5A around 10 kilometres northeast of Merritt, which was built in the 1870s and was used regularly until it closed in 1956.

Until it burned down, the congregation used the small church for special occasions.

The Crossroads Community Church in Merritt and the Shulus Catholic Church, located just northwest of the city, were also targeted in the arson attacks.

The B.C. Prosecution Service says all the offences took place on or around Jan. 11, 2019. 

Caprian received a two-year conditional sentence order for all four counts.

With files from Dominika Lirette

now