Christopher Cusack, the 50-year-old man charged with setting fire to both the Grand Forks and Winnipeg hotels in 2012, is scheduled to appear in Rossland court this Friday, Sept. 12 for sentencing.
In October 2013, Cusack’s lawyer, Ken Wyllie, pleaded not guilty on behalf of his client but did submit an admission of facts.
In the admission, Cusack admitted to setting the two fires on March 7, 2012. The first fire was at the Grand Forks Hotel, destroying the building and causing $1 million in damage. The second fire was set on a motorcycle, which was parked under a staircase at the Winnipeg Hotel. The fire spread, causing more than $10,000 worth of damage.
On May 6 in Grand Forks Law Court, Cusack was found guilty of two counts of arson in relation to inhabited property.
According to the admission of guilt, later that night Cusack, who had been drinking all day, rode his bicycle to the PetroCanada station and filled a jerry can with gasoline that he used to start the fires.
Cusack had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 years prior. He had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and been on various medications after complaining of paranoia.
Cusack stopped taking his medication five years ago, saying it made him feel sluggish.
A couple of days before the fire, Cusack got a prescription from a local doctor but was unable to fill the prescription at a local pharmacy because he was destitute.
The two acts of arson destroyed the 100-year-old historic Grand Forks Hotel, while the fire at the landmark Winnipeg Hotel was limited to the rear of the building, creating smoke damage throughout the venerable structure.
There were no injuries and casualties reported but RCMP said approximately 20 people were displaced due to the fires.
Both hotels have since been demolished with the Grand Forks Hotel site currently a vacant lot.