Ironman Mont Tremblant

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

With A Friend Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Dying man said friend doused him with gasoline, lit flame

Published On Tue Oct 18 2011Email Print Rss Article

Peter Small

Courts Bureau

A man dying of burns to 80 per cent of his body told a police officer that an acquaintance poured gas over him and lit him on fire without explanation, a court has heard.

“I didn’t want to die like this,” Robert George Brown told the constable as an ambulance rushed them to Sunnybrook hospital.

Const. Carlos Pareja testified Tuesday that the 44-year-old victim said he was sitting in the backyard of his west Toronto townhouse having drinks with Michael Hall.

“I was a little depressed. . . . My wife is dying of cancer,” Brown told the officer.

“Buddy said, ‘Do you want to die?’ ” the burn victim continued.

“I went to have a shower. He poured gasoline on me. He lit me up with his lighter.”

Pareja asked Brown if he and Hall had been fighting.

“No, not at all,” was Brown’s reply.

The questions seemed to distract Brown from his agony, the officer recalled. He was screaming in pain between answers, Pareja told prosecutor Michael Townsend.

As the officer testified, Brown’s common-law wife, Linda Hedge, sat weeping in court.

Hall, 35, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to second-degree murder in the May 20, 2009, burning death on Jasper Ave. near Weston Rd. and Black Creek Dr.

Pareja recalled that when he arrived at the house Brown was sitting on the front steps, staring, as if in shock.

“I couldn’t even tell what race he was. His skin was multi-coloured . . . greenish, yellowish and greyish,” Pareja said.

“His hair was burnt. He had skin hanging off of him.”

Const. Serena Marchis testified that when she arrived, she saw Brown at the front of the house. He told her, “The man who did this is still in the backyard,” she said.

Marchis went to the back, where she helped officers handcuff Hall.

She said she found a red cigarette lighter in his pocket.

His hands were very sooty and blackened, she told prosecutor Anna Trbovich.

There was a large burnt patch in the backyard, she recalled.

Hall didn’t seem intoxicated, though she could smell alcohol, she said.

“In my notes I had him slurring, but I don’t recall that.”

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Tom Dungey, Marchis agreed she wrote in her notebook that he was “very hbd” — police code for “has been drinking.”

The trial continues.

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