Guilty plea in truck fire at Cornwall bar

In this June 2019, file photo, by Marc Desforges, flames engulf a pickup truck behind Bill's Sports Bar on Thirteenth Street on Sunday, June 2, 2019. A Lunenburg man, now living in Cornwall, has pleaded guilty to arson through negligence. (Marc Desforges via Newswatch Group, File)

CORNWALL – A Lunenburg man, now living in Cornwall, has pleaded guilty to arson by negligence in a truck fire outside a local bar last year.

Cody Shaw, 30, was charged in June 2019 with arson. He pleaded guilty last week to a less serious charge of arson caused by negligence, avoiding a trial.

Court heard how a Cornwall police officer first spotted flames shooting from behind Bill’s Sports Bar on Thirteenth Street on June 2, 2019 around 2:45 a.m.

Shaw, who was extremely drunk, put a chainsaw and gas can in a truck registered to his fiancee.

He was seen by a nearby resident who woke up to a loud noise.

“The man observed the male return to the driver’s seat of the truck, where he began to light a cigarette. Approximately 30 seconds after…the truck’s back seat area was on fire and a few minutes later the truck became fully engulfed,” Crown attorney Raffael Beaulieu read into the record.

Seemingly trying to cover his mistake, Shaw banged on the back door of Bill’s Sports Bar to call for help and, as people gathered outside, he said “somebody from the bar just set my truck on fire,” according to the witness.

As for the damage to the truck, Beaulieu told Judge Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal his office will be talking to the insurance company directly because they have been trying to get a damage estimate from registered owner Kayla Lapierre without success.

Addressing the court, Shaw admitted to the facts presented by the prosecution and said he doesn’t remember a lot about the night because he was extremely drunk. But he remembers putting the gear in the cab of the truck for safekeeping while waiting for a cab to take him home.

Shaw’s lawyer, Bill Wade, has asked for a pre-sentence report.

The court will hear submissions from the prosecution and defence in April on what sort of sentence Shaw should receive. Judge Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal expects to give her decision that day.