Local briefs – October 27

A series of suspicious fires, sparked in the Mountview neighbourhood last weekend, are being investigated by Red Deer police and the local fire investigator.

Fires under investigation

A series of suspicious fires, sparked in the Mountview neighbourhood last weekend, are being investigated by Red Deer police and the local fire investigator.

City of Red Deer Emergency Services crews were called to a vehicle fire in Mountview just after 4 a.m. on Sunday morning.

When they arrived, they not only found a car and a truck in flames, the crews also discovered a smouldering fire in a neighbouring garage. As well, an older model mobile home down the block was burning.

All the fires set around 36th Street and 41st Avenue are being investigated as arsons.

Although no one was injured, about $10,000 in property damage was estimated.

Fire investigator Al Robichaud said on Monday, “We are still trying to determine how they were set.”

Investigators are talking to area residents to see if anyone saw anything suspicious early on Sunday.

Con artist sentenced to jail

A man who stole fire extinguishers from businesses and then sold them to other businesses was jailed on Monday.

Franklin Roy Romph, 42, of Vancouver was sentenced to 45 days in jail minus a credit of eight days he has been in custody since his arrest four days ago.

Courts generally award people in remand a two-for-one credit for time in pre-trial custody.

Romph pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and one attempted fraud, theft of less than $5,000 and two counts of false pretenses.

Crown prosecutor Murray McPherson told provincial court that Romph started his scam on Oct. 20 in Red Deer at a pub in Riverside Meadows, a downtown restaurant and an Edgar Industrial business.

He approached employees in the various business pretending to be a representative of a company and the business needed to have a fire extinguisher near the bar for safety measures.

He produced a pre-authorized receipt and received $99 at one business and $84 at another. The Edgar business employee was alert and didn’t fall for the scam.

On Oct. 22 in Olds, Romph approached a pizza place with a stolen fire extinguisher and sold it for $115.50.

He then pilfered an extinguisher from a motel and tried to sell it to a nearby restaurant for $94 but was foiled.

The scam raised about $385.

Judge Bert Skinner heard that Romph has a lengthy history of fraud and stolen property convictions.

Romph, who court heard recently arrived in Alberta from Vancouver, is a crack cocaine addict and plans to enrol in a drug treatment program in Vancouver when released from jail.

Accused’s hearing concludes

Final arguments and a judge’s decision are all that remain in a lengthy hearing to determine if a man should be declared a dangerous offender.

Testimony in the Red Deer provincial court hearing for Clement Joseph Robinson, 51, concluded on Monday.

Final arguments will be heard on Nov. 12.

Judge Thomas Schollie will make a decision on Robinson’s status.

The hearing was sought by the Crown after Robinson pleaded guilty in June 2007 to assaulting a former Red Deer escort by stabbing her with scissors on Jan. 25, 2006. He has been in custody since the stabbing.

Dangerous offender status would allow authorities to make him serve an indefinite prison term, followed by lengthy supervision.

Robinson is already classed as a long-term offender who has been sentenced to set jail terms, followed by supervision.

Robinson has previously served prison terms of four and a half years and seven years for sexual assaults on prostitutes in Calgary and Edmonton in 1993 and in 1982.

The hearing has been in progress for parts of four weeks, including a lost week when Robinson was hospitalized for suspected stomach problems.

Suspect remains in custody

A man charged with trying to blow up a woman in a residence in Johnstone Park was remanded in custody on Monday.

Christopher Sinclair, 27, of Red Deer returns to provincial court on Nov. 13 on three charges in connection with the Oct. 10 incident.

Court heard a man used a homemade explosive device and detonated it outside a residence on the 100 block of Jordan Parkway where a woman was living.

No one was injured, police said earlier.

No reason was given for the alleged acts.

Sinclair is charged with unlawful use of an explosive device, making an explosive device and mischief endangering life.

Sinclair has been denied bail and is attempting to secure a lawyer.

Another man charged, Michael Toews, 26, of Red Deer faces a charge of possession of explosives for unlawful purposes.

Toews was released from custody and makes his first appearance on Nov. 3.

Police said earlier it’s believed the device was detonated sometime overnight prior to 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 20.

RCMP say the investigation is ongoing.

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