Suspect in thrift store arson sent for psychiatric assessment

Rosie Mullaley
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A year after incarceration for a slew of crimes, Justin Murphy in trouble with the law again

Justin Murphy appeared in provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday, a day after he was arrested for reportedly starting a fire at the Salvation Army thrift store on Kenmount Road last week.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Almost a year ago to the day, Justin Murphy stood before a judge, begging for leniency and assuring him, “I’ve learned my lesson this time.”

Considering the Crown had asked for a two-year jail term, Murphy got a break back then and was sentenced to nine months in prison with probation for committing a slew of crimes, including break and enter, theft and dangerous driving.

On Tuesday, Murphy was back before a judge. This time for reportedly trying to set fire to a St. John’s thrift shop.

It happened just after midnight on July 4.

Video surveillance released by the RNC shows a man wearing a hoodie rummaging through second-hand items left outside at the back of the Salvation Army thrift store on Kenmount Road. Shortly after he left, several fires were seen.

The fire department showed up shortly afterwards.

Police say the building sustained moderate damage.

Murphy was arrested Monday afternoon and charged with arson and breaching probation.

The 27-year-old stumbled a few times from what looked to be oversized sandals as he was escorted into Courtroom No. 7 in provincial court.

Duty counsel Jane Fitzpatrick suggested Murphy undergo a psychiatric assessment over the lunch hour.

Once he returned to court in the afternoon, the judge informed lawyers that psychiatrists at the Waterford Hospital requested another week for further evaluation.

The case is due back in court July 16.

Murphy’s mental state was a key issue in his sentencing last year.

The judge who sentenced him admitted he struggled with his decision, as Murphy is intellectually challenged, having been diagnosed with a developmental disorder.

“This sentence is long enough to send a message, but not so long to deprive him of hope,” Judge Robert Hyslop said at that time.

Hyslop then warned Murphy to abide by the law from now on or else he would end up in a federal prison.

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: RNC, Salvation Army, Waterford Hospital

Geographic location: Kenmount Road

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