Three-year sentence for British Columbia man who set fire to his home while his ex-wife and daughter were inside

A man who broke into the home where his ex-wife and adult daughter were sleeping, doused it with gasoline and set it on fire the morning he was due to appear in court on a domestic violence charge will spend another 11 months in prison.

Jin Ming Han has been in prison since he was arrested in October 2022. He pleaded guilty to one count of menacing and one count of arson with disregard for human life and was sentenced to three years, less credit for time served. , according to the decision published online on Tuesday.

The court heard that Han’s wife broke her back when she jumped out of their second-floor bedroom window to escape. Her adult daughter was not seriously injured, but she was soaked in gasoline during a fight with her father.

“The seriousness of Mr. Han’s offense and his moral culpability are high. If it had not been for luck, Mr. Han’s daughter could have died in the fire or suffered life-changing burns all over her body.” If it weren’t for (his wife’s) luck, “the injuries could have been considerably worse. Mr. Han is lucky that the consequences of his actions were not worse,” Judge Nicholas Prevolos wrote.

The crimes

Han moved out of the family home in February 2022 after a significant period of “strain” in his nearly 30-year marriage, the decision says, noting that he was under financial pressure and had become “increasingly withdrawn and depressed.” .

About a month after his departure, during a conversation his daughter recorded because she “got worried,” Han said he was “thinking about coming to the family home to kill” his wife, according to the decision.

The daughter called police that day to report the threats, but Han refused to tell anyone where she lived and refused to voluntarily go to the RCMP detachment. Over the next two weeks, Han sent threatening messages to his wife and was eventually charged and released with conditions and a promise to appear in court.

At what would have been his next court date, he broke into the house and started the fire.

“The sound of breaking glass woke up her daughter, who got out of bed and saw Mr. Han walking up the stairs to the second floor with a 25-liter can of gasoline. She alerted (her mother), who closed the door from his bedroom.” Prevolos wrote, describing what happened.

“He started pouring gasoline at the top of the stairs and in front of Mrs. Liu’s bedroom. His daughter tried to take the can from him, but he resisted. In the struggle, they were both soaked in gas. She managed to push him, causing him to fall down the stairs. stairs. Undeterred, Mr. Han went upstairs again and attempted to start a fire in front of (his wife’s) room with a lighter. Mr. Han’s daughter took control of the lighter and retreated to her room. , barricading himself in the room with furniture and closing the door. While in his room, he called 911.”

Han’s daughter eventually broke her bedroom window screen after smoke began seeping into her room and first responders found her on the roof of the house. Her mother was found hiding in the bushes.

Han walked away from the scene and returned to the rental unit where he lived. When police located him two days later, after putting out a public call for information, they found him with burns that required treatment in the ICU and “multiple surgeries,” according to the decision.

The phrase

The “profound” impact on Han’s wife was one of the factors the judge considered aggravating in the case, noting that her injury continues to cause her pain and fatigue and interferes with her ability to perform basic tasks. The damage to the home was significant and cost approximately $30,000 to repair.

“The psychological consequences have been long-lasting. She feels safe from Mr. Han only because he is in prison. At the same time, she is frank about her conflicts and acknowledges that she cares for him as her former partner of 30 years and recognizes that he was also injured by the fire,” the judge wrote, summarizing Han’s wife’s victim impact statement.

Other aggravating factors included the fact that Han was out on bail at the time of the fire and was prohibited from being in the house, that the crime involved planning, and that his motive was revenge.

“Mr. Han had multiple opportunities to reconsider his intended actions. He was initially confronted verbally and then physically by his daughter. Neither made him stop to reconsider, not even falling down the stairs after a fight over the gas can. with her daughter or the fact that her daughter was doused with gasoline and was at risk of being set on fire,” Prevolos wrote, describing this as the “most aggravating” factor.

Mitigating factors included Han’s guilty plea, the fact that he himself was seriously injured, that he had a mental illness at the time that was a contributing factor, and his lack of a criminal record.

The judge also said Han took “partial responsibility” for his actions.

“While he demonstrates some understanding of the wrongfulness of his actions in March and October 2022, he also made comments suggesting there was some justification as his wife had disposed of her possessions after he had honorably left her both family homes.” . he says the decision, citing an expert report.

In addition to the three-year sentence for arson, Han was sentenced to 14 days on the charge of uttering threats, to be served concurrently. After his release, Han will be on probation for 30 months.

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