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Crown seeks three-year jail term for St. John’s man charged with arson, indecent exposure, multiple thefts

St. John’s Regional Fire Department firefighters enter the home at 103 Whiteway Street in St. John’s to begin knocking down a fire on Friday night.
Fire destroys a home on Whiteway Street last year. Daniel Peter Humby admitting to starting the blaze. He was in court in St. John’s Friday for a sentencing hearing on arson, indecent exposure and multiple thefts.

The facts of Daniel Peter Humby’s charges are nothing if not bizarre.
The 21-year-old sat quietly in the front of provincial courtroom No. 5 in St. John’s Friday afternoon, as prosecutor Tannis King read out the eclectic list of charges: arson, indecent exposure, multiple thefts and others.
“He’s clearly a troubled young man,” King told the court.
In an agreed statement of facts, Humby admitted he entered an Our Pleasure shop in June of last year and stole a sex toy. Staff were easily able to identify him, however, since he had given them his name upon entering the store when he inquired about the number of credit points he had on file.
When the store owner contacted Humby on Facebook to tell him she had video surveillance of the theft, Humby replied, saying he would come in to pay for the item. He later sent the woman a photo of himself with the sex toy in his mouth along with a photo of an erect penis.
Later in the summer, Humby stole a bottle of tequila from a liquor store on Ropewalk Lane, having brought it to the checkout and then running away. By the time he was charged with the theft, Humby was already in jail on other charges. When police showed him a still photo taken from the video footage captured by the liquor store, Humby responded, “That’s a nice picture of me. Can I get one?”

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About a week after the theft, one of Humby’s roommates came home to their Whiteway Street residence to find Humby attempting to cut the siding from the house in order to light the house on fire. The roommate told police he convinced Humby — who had written a Facebook post threatening to burn down the house — to stop. Hours later, a fire broke out inside the home and it was later determined to have been intentionally set in a pile of clothes in Humby’s bedroom. The home was destroyed.
Humby was questioned by police and denied any involvement, but a week later turned himself in, confessing to having started the fire and telling investigators God had told him to do it. He was arrested and released on an undertaking, and ordered to attend RNC headquarters for fingerprinting while awaiting his next court date. He didn’t show up but he did visit an Elizabeth Avenue Ultramar station, where he stole a half-case of Budweiser beer.
King presented Humby’s five-page criminal record to the court, and expressed particular concern with the arson, which she said forced the other two tenants in the house to find somewhere else to live. She noted the taunting nature of Humby’s messages to the Our Pleasure owner.
King also presented a report from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Jasbir Gill, in which Gill said Humby had told her he didn’t feel bad for starting the fire since he was “supposed to do it,” and that he had told prison officials he was suicidal in order to get off the unit he was on.
Gill noted Humby has a long history of disturbing behaviour, including bullying and sexually aggressive actions, and his parents had expressed their long-standing worry over his fascination with fire.
Gill didn’t diagnosis Humby with a mental illness, King stressed, but suggested he might have anti-social personality traits or could fit on the mild end of the autism spectrum.
King suggested a total jail sentence for Humby of three years and five months, minus credit for time served.
Humby’s lawyer, Jennifer Curran, told the court she had requested fitness assessments for her client in the year he’s been in jail, which were postponed when Humby wasn’t co-operative. He eventually co-operated with Gill, Curran said, who found Humby did not fit the criteria to be deemed not criminally responsible for his crimes.
“He’s aware that this isn’t really normal behaviour,” Curran said, adding Humby’s family is as supportive as possible but “bewildered” by his actions.
Curran noted Gill's report presented Humby as being tense, frustrated, shamed and angry over circumstances in his life.
“It’s clear he was a young man with a lot of chaos happening,” Curran said. Humby is currently in hospital, she said.
Curran suggested a total jail sentence of 27 to 33 months for Humby, with credit given at a 1.5 to one rate for the days he has spent on remand.
Judge Colin Flynn will render his decision next week.

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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