Leamington woman gets conditional discharge for Wheatley fire

A Leamington woman has received a conditional discharge for the role she played in damaging property in Wheatley last summer.

That means Patricia Whittle, 57, will not have a criminal record.

Patrick Ducharme
Patrick Ducharme

Ontario Court Justice Lucy Glenn agreed with defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme that the accused was not thinking clearly when she caused two fires to her family home on Aug. 12.

At the time, a fire official estimated the damage to 21170 Erie St. South at $250,000.

In earlier testimony, court heard Whittle had undergone two brain surgeries about 11 years earlier and that she suffered from short-term memory loss.

A man working in the area at the time of the fire spotted smoke and found the accused seated in a vehicle in a garage.

There was also smoke coming from inside the house.

A pre-sentence report included more than two dozen letters of support from friends and members of the woman’s community describing her as loyal, thoughtful, considerate, kind and hard working.

“Her recollection of the fire is that she threw down a lit cigarette in the garage and it ignited and she may also have left a pot on the stove,” Ducharme said.

He added his client lost a cherished dog in the fire.

Her husband did some research on one of her medications and discovered it should only have been taken for a short period of time after his wife’s surgery, Ducharme said.

“I did go off the medication and I feel much better and I will never be here again,” Whittle told the judge.

She was ordered to take counselling as directed by a probation officer for a 12-month term.

The judge also ordered the woman to conduct 50 hours of community service to reflect the community expense of the firefighters, the police and the fire marshal office investigation.

A DNA order was also made.

Court heard the property is solely owned by the defendant’s husband.

“Her husband still loves her and they intend to repair their home,” Ducharme said.