Ottawa escort charged with arson
Prostitute torched hotel hallway
OTTAWA -- The Crown is asking for 10 years for a prostitute who torched a hallway of the Radisson Hotel when a couple demanded their money back, leaving a woman with horrific injuries.
Melissa White, 26, cried through her sentencing hearing for arson causing bodily harm in connection with the New Year’s Day fire.
She fought tears when asked if she had anything to say.
“I’m so f---ing sorry,” she wept. “Maybe she doesn’t think I am, but I am.
“It’s the biggest punishment you guys could give me to see that today,” she said, gesturing at Shannon Oliver, the badly burned victim of the fire she set, whose breathing through a tracheotomy tube could be heard throughout the hearing.
Prosecutor Dallas Mack asked for a decade-long sentence for what he called a planned and deliberate arson that could have left many dead. White, who has a record, went to buy gas, took a taxi to the hotel at 402 Queen St., then splashed the gas outside the couple’s room before setting it afire.
“I wanted him to burn, he gave me two punches to the mouth and I torched him,” he quoted White telling a 911 operator.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Oliver and her boyfriend Daniel Leween rented room 222 on New Year’s Eve. White arrived around 6 a.m.
She told police she had a few drinks with the couple, who seemed more drunk than she was. Nothing happened so she told them she was leaving and got into a verbal and physical fight with Leween because she wouldn’t give the money back.
About 8 a.m., the fire alarm went off and the hotel was evacuated of guests including children visiting from China and Germany for a hockey tournament.
Oliver was found badly burned in the hallway, her body poisoned with cyanide from the smoke. Leween suffered burns and was in the hospital for a week.
A third guest suffered smoke inhalation.
Guest Francois Mayville was forced to smash out the windows to escape and helped others to safety.
Defence lawyer Bob Carew asked for five years for what he said was an impulsive act to get back at someone who assaulted her. She’s remorseful and turned herself in the next day.
Five years sends a strong message, Carew said, “it also doesn’t throw the key away for this young person. It gives her some hope.”
Could Have Been Much Worse