Man gets house arrest for dousing wife, torching home
Don Lajoie, The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A Windsor man who doused his wife with gasoline and threatened to ignite her, then burned down the family home last summer, has been sentenced to two years, less a day, of house arrest.
In passing sentence Wednesday on 41-year-old Shawn Prosser, Justice Terry Patterson said the father of three has shown great remorse and even sorrow for his actions the morning of June 11, 2007, after he was arrested while crawling from the basement window of his burning home in the 5400 block of Lyndon Court.
Patterson noted that a psychiatric evaluation of Prosser prior to sentencing showed that he was suffering from severe depression at the time of the blaze. Prosser had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide. He has been under psychiatric care since the incident.
"He is extremely remorseful," said Patterson. "He continues to show great remorse and expresses sorrow for what he has done.... No sentence will undo the wrong he committed against his wife and children.... But I'm satisfied he will take rehabilitation seriously and he acknowledged he would comply with all conditions."
Prosser pleaded guilty in April to five charges, including aggravated assault, three counts of mischief endangering life for starting the fire that threatened his three children -- between ages 10 and 16 at the time -- and to a second count of assault for a previous attack on his oldest daughter.
Patterson ruled that Prosser will be subject to extreme restrictions while under house arrest but will be able to work to pay support for his family. Since the fire destroyed the home, said Patterson, it becomes a consideration of sentencing that the offender be able to pay support and help the family rebuild their lives.
Three years' probation
Once the conditional sentence expires, Prosser will be on probation for three years, giving the courts control over him for five years to ensure support is paid, said Patterson. Prosser works full-time as an electrician for a Windsor mouldmaker.
When the sentence was announced Prosser became visibly emotional, crying into a handkerchief as his lawyer, Christina Sweet, comforted him. Family members, seated behind him, declined comment after the case was adjourned. Relatives of his wife, who has split with Prosser, seated on the opposite side of the court, also refused to comment.
"Of course he's very pleased," said Sweet, following the ruling. "The judge's decision was well reasoned. It recognizes his rehabilitation, the steps he has taken and the progress he has made. I'm confident that he will continue his treatment and, at the end of five years, be much healthier than he is now. He's happy. No one wants to go to jail."
Assistant Crown attorney Elizabeth Brown, who had argued for a two years less a day jail sentence, left the court without commenting.
During a family disagreement, Prosser doused his wife with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The woman and three children escaped the house unharmed but Prosser set fire to the dwelling. After his arrest, Prosser was sent to hospital for superficial wounds and smoke inhalation.
Tom Rolfe, executive director of Hiatus House, a shelter for abused women, said the organization does not comment on local court cases due to the fact they may involve families they have worked with.
Generally, he said, all involved parties, including the women, the men and the children, need to have access to help "because all are affected."
He wouldn't comment on whether the penalty was too lenient.
© The Windsor Star 2008