Nfld. & Labrador

Investigator says fire at Trent Butt's home was set intentionally

Butt is accused of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of his five-year-old daughter, Quinn.

Butt's DNA found on 3 gas cans, lighter and a box cutter

The jury has heard two days of heart-wrenching testimony at the first-degree murder trial of Trent Butt, accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter Quinn. (Facebook)

The fire commissioner who investigated the blaze at Trent Butt's home in 2016 says it was clearly a case of arson.

 "My conclusion is that this fire was intentionally lit by a person," said Jim Barry, an expert in fire investigation and specifically fire progression and the origin of fires.

Barry said the burn patterns in the house show two separate fires were set at 12 Hayden Hts., the house where Trent Butt's daughter Quinn Butt was found dead.

Fire investigator Jim Barry (right) discussing evidence with Crown lawyer Lloyd Strickland. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

An agreed statement of facts read in court Friday said DNA collected from three gas cans, a lighter and a box cutter found at the scene matched Butt's DNA.

Butt is accused of first-degree murder and arson. He has pleaded guilty to arson but not guilty to first-degree murder.

The Crown argues Butt killed his daughter and then burned down his home in Carbonear to punish his estranged wife, Andrea Gosse, pointing to what they describe as a murder-suicide letter found in Butt's truck after the fire.

The defence says Butt didn't plan to kill his daughter and doesn't remember doing it.

Some of Thursday's emotional testimony detailed what first responders saw when they were called to Butt's burning home in Carbonear in April 2016. 

Testifying for the Crown, volunteer firefighter Ian Green said he entered the house, went through a closed bedroom door, and found the little girl lying in the middle of a bed, wearing a pink nightie visible through the smoke.

Quinn Butt's mother, Andrea Gosse, sits behind Trent Butt, her former husband, at Supreme Court in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

"It was just like she was asleep. She was pristine, complete," he said.

Raymond Verge, another firefighter who responded that morning, also testified 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," he told the courtroom.

Some evidence collected at the scene was also shown, including a lighter and box cutter, both found on a bedside table in the bedroom where Butt and his daughter were discovered, and a gas can found in the living room.

Earlier this week, Gosse — Quinn's mother — broke down on the stand describing being taken to the hospital where she learned her daughter was dead.

Having already testified, Gosse is now able to sit in the courtroom to follow the rest of the trial.

The trial adjourned midday on Friday and is set to resume Monday. It was expected to take three weeks but is progressing more quickly than expected.

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With files from Mark Quinn