Man who firebombed bank sentenced to 3 years
Damage is seen Wednesday, May 19, 2010 that was caused by a firebomb at an Ottawa downtown bank. (Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, December 7, 2010 11:03AM EST
OTTAWA - A retired federal bureaucrat has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for firebombing a city bank.
Roger Clement targeted the RBC branch last May to protest the bank's connections to the Alberta oilsands and the 2010 Olympics.
Court had heard that the 58-year-old had a long history of activism and a troubled family past. But Judge Celynne Dorval said nothing in his history, or his motives, shed enough light on why he committed the crime.
Clement told his sentencing hearing Monday that he regretted the consequences of his actions and intends to use his time more wisely once he's free. In handing down the sentence Tuesday, Dorval said that was not an expression of remorse.
The Crown had argued for a six-year sentence to send a message that such crimes aren't tolerated by society, while the defence said a lesser sentence would serve the same goal.
The attack cost the bank $1.6 million and closed the branch for months.
The incident happened just before the G8 and G20 summits in Huntsville, Ont., and Toronto, sparking fears it was the start of more violence to come at the meetings.
Claude Haridge, 50, and Matthew Morgan-Brown, 32, were also arrested in the case but their charges have been stayed.
Court heard Monday that to identify the attackers, police relied on video surveillance footage from the bank and a nearby embassy.
They also followed Clement for a number of days, even digging up a computer he'd buried in the woods near Peterborough, Ont. On it, they discovered e-mail communication where Clement talked about an earlier attack on a different RBC branch and claimed the "nocturnal action" had "lifted my spirits."
Clement's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, had argued that his client should only serve three years because the attack was out of character and he isn't likely to reoffend.
Greenspon told the court Clement was the rock of his troubled family.
Clement's father committed suicide in 1961 so the family could have his insurance money to pay for medical treatments. Clement spent the early 1990s caring for his mother after she had a brain hemorrhage. He retired early from his job with the Canadian International Development Agency to care for a sister with breast cancer, who ultimately took her own life as well.
Clement also has a brother with schizophrenia and the night before the firebombing, court heard, Clement had to pick him up and have him committed to a mental health institution.
The Crown argued, however, that Clement meticulously planned the attack, going so far as to wait outside the bank for two hours to make sure there would be no witnesses. The Crown also noted that Clement made sure there was video of the incident and posted it online himself with a manifesto designed expressly to spur others onto action.