Nfld. & Labrador

'She was pristine,' says firefighter who responded to Trent Butt's house

"I saw a firefighter carrying that little angel, and that's a sight I will never forget."

'I saw a firefighter carrying that little angel, and that's a sight I will never forget'

The first responders to the scene of Trent Butt's Carbonear home, where five-year-old Quinn Butt's body was found, testified Thursday morning at the first-degree murder trial. (Submitted photo)

A jury heard emotional testimony of what first responders saw when they were called to the home of Trent Butt, accused of first-degree murder in the death of his five-year-old daughter, Quinn Butt, at Supreme Court in St. John's on Thursday morning.

"It was just like she was asleep. She was pristine, complete," said Ian Green, a volunteer firefighter in Carbonear, who testified as a Crown witness.

I saw a firefighter carrying that little angel, and that's a sight I will never forget.- Raymond Verge

Green said when he entered the house and went through a closed bedroom door, the little girl was lying in the middle of a bed, wearing a pink nightie visible through the smoke.

"We could tell Trent was still alive. I stepped in to get him and I stepped in a pool of blood," said Green. "There was a laceration on his arm and a lot of blood."

Butt has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge. Justice Donald Burrage told the jury Wednesday that Butt has now pleaded guilty to arson.

Butt's first-degree murder trial continues in Supreme Court in St. John's on Thursday. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Raymond Verge, another firefighter who responded to Butt's home that morning in 2016, also took the stand Thursday.

"When we arrived, we jumped out of the ambulance and I saw a firefighter carrying that little angel, and that's a sight I will never forget," Verge told the courtroom.

Some of the facts that both the Crown and defence agree on were also entered in court Thursday, including an account, from Dr. Allan Mweemba, of Quinn's condition when she arrived at the Carbonear hospital.

He said Quinn arrived at about 5:30 a.m. and described her as "being icy cold. No blood pressure or pulse was ever detected. No temperature detected."

Hospital staff fought hard to resuscitate her but at 6:14 a.m. she was declared dead and her family, including Andrea Gosse, was informed.

They also pointed out that although her father had soot around his mouth and nose, Quinn did not.

Lighter, gas can and a box cutter

An RCMP officer in charge of keeping track of evidence at the scene of the fire also testified in court.

Const. Mohammed Agha noticed two bodies shortly after he arrived at Butt's home early on April 24, 2016. 

One of the gas cans police found in Trent Butt's fire-damaged home on April 24, 2016. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

 "I heard a scream," Agha said, "and based on what I heard, I believe it was the mother."

He then started taking photos at the scene. Some of the items he saw were presented at exhibits in court Thursday.

They included a lighter and box cutter, both found on a bedside table in the bedroom where Trent and Quinn were discovered, and a gas can found in the living room.

Jury told Butt has no memory of daughter's death 

On Wednesday, Butt's defence lawyer, Derek Hogan, said his client didn't plan to kill his daughter and doesn't remember doing it. 

But Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland argues Butt killed his daughter to punish his estranged wife Andrea Gosse, and said after the fire, there was what the Crown describes as a murder-suicide letter found in Butt's truck.

Wednesday was an emotional start to testimony, and members from both Butt's and Gosse's family wept openly as the lawyers gave their opening statements.

Mother's testimony

Court then heard testimony from Gosse, who cried on the stand, saying Quinn was her only child.

Gosse testified she was staying with a friend in Harbour Grace when she got a call telling them Butt's Carbonear home was on fire.

Andrea Gosse, Quinn's mother, wept during testimony Wednesday. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

She told the jury when she arrived at the scene, she saw Trent and not her daughter. Gosse then broke down sobbing on the stand as she recounted being taken to the hospital where she learned her daughter Quinn was dead.

Gosse concluded her testimony Wednesday, and as the first witness, she can now sit in the courtroom and follow the rest of the trial.

It's expected to take three weeks.

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with files from Mark Quinn