Two key witnesses testify at murder trial of Liam Stinson in Sudbury | CBC News

A witness at the trial of Liam Stinson, 27, has testified that he lit the fatal fire at a Sudbury townhouse on April 11, 2021 at the direction of the accused.

Three people died and another was seriously injured.

Stinson is facing three charges of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Jamie-Lynn Rose, Guy Henri and Jasmine Somers.

He’s also charged in connection with recklessly causing damage by fire to a residence, causing bodily harm.

David Cheff’s townhouse unit on Bruce Avenue was set on fire in the early morning hours of April 11.

Cheff survived by jumping out a second storey window..

the middle townhouse in a row of three is charred from flames, has plywood over the windows and doors and police tape across the front of it
Three people were killed after this townhouse on Bruce Avenue in Sudbury was set on fire in April 2021. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

In testimony last week, the jury heard from the first of two men, both drug users at the time, who say they were at Stinson’s residence the night before the fire.

His testimony could not be reported until now, after CBC led a bid to have the terms of a publication ban clarified.

The identities of the two witnesses are still not publishable, but media are now able to report on their testimony.

The first man testified that he was using fentanyl with 10 to 15 other people at Stinsons’s residence the night before the fire.

Describing how he had been sinking deeper into addiction, he admitted he was intoxicated that night.

“I was high. I was feeling euphoric,” he told the jury.

A townhouse with plywood over the doors and winders and yellow police caution tape waving in the wind
Sudbury firefighters say they arrived at the scene to find flames coming from the main and second floor of the townhouse. (Yvon Therault/Radio-Canada)

He told the jury that another man, whom he knew, arrived with two plastic drink bottles full of gasoline later that night.

“I believe he was asked to light something on fire.” he testified.

He said he asked Stinson about it and the Crown asked him why didn’t ask anyone else.

“I asked Liam because somewhere during the night it was said by Liam that he had someone getting gas, basically that he was going to have this person who owed him money’s place set on fire.”

He later learned that Cheff’s townhouse was the target of the arson and became alarmed.

“My first reaction was to ask if anyone was home, so it wasn’t going to be something it turned out to be.”

He said Stinson told him the people who lived there had gone to Timmins and Stinson showed a text from his estranged girlfriend, Rose, who had been staying at Cheff’s place, as proof.

Witness testified second man lit Molotov cocktail that ignited the fire

The witness said he offered to show the other man the exact address of Cheff’s townhouse and went with him just before dawn, with a bag containing two Molotov cocktails fashioned from the gas-filled bottles.

He said he found the back door of the unit open and stepped into the kitchen.

When he turned around, he said the other man had lit one of the bottles on fire and the other was spinning, unlit, on the floor.

The other witness, who also cannot be identified, confirmed in his testimony Tuesday that he didn’t know anyone who lived at the townhouse and had no disagreements with the victims, but that he set the fire at Stinson’s direction.

“It wasn’t intentional,” he said.  “I never wanted anyone to get hurt”

I owed him money, plus I wanted more drugs. And he said he’d hook me up if I started the fire.– Witness who cannot be identified by name at trial of Liam Stinson

When asked what was in it for him, he replied that Stinson told him he’d be compensated but there was never an agreement on what the word compensation meant.

“I owed him money, plus I wanted more drugs,” the witness said. “And he said he’d hook me up if I started the fire.”

He said the money he owed to Stinson amounted to about $100 for drugs the week before.

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Joseph Wilkinson asked the witness about his daily consumption of fentanyl in 2021.

The man replied it would have been between 0.2 and 0.5 milligrams a day.

That led to questions about the drug transactions April 10 between the witness and Stinson.

Text messages introduced as evidence

The witness said he’d bought some fentanyl in the morning but that he was dissatisfied with the quality.

In text messages between the witness and Stinson introduced as evidence, later that day Stinson offered the witness fentanyl that he described as “fire”, meaning it was high quality plus a little bit extra to make up for the poor quality of the morning purchase, and stipulated cash payment.

The witness said he didn’t follow up because his phone died, he was at his parents house and he didn’t have any cash.

When the man arrived at Stinson’s place later that night, he traded his TV for drugs but not for the sought-after “fire” and extra.

He testified he was very high a little while later when he went to a nearby gas station to fill some bottles with gasoline, which was caught on camera and submitted as evidence in the trial.

He said he returned to Stinson’s place with the gas early in the morning, then later set out to the townhouse with the other man carrying two home-made Molotov cocktails.

High quality fentanyl known as “fire”

Defence lawyer Joseph Wilkinson asked the man if he  remembered telling the other man on the walk to the townhouse that he was hoping to get 3.75 milligrams of fentanyl, known as a ball, in exchange for lighting the fire,.

He replied that he didn’t recall that but couldn’t dispute the memory of the other man who had testified to it.

The witness repeated that he was promised something, but never an amount, and there was never a concrete agreement.

Wilkinson persisted and asked the witness if he thought that the earlier offer of “fire” was for setting the fire and if he was an opportunist hoping to capitalize on the offer.

The witness replied that was not accurate.

He said that he learned that people had died in the fire from the media later that day, and felt remorseful.

The trial continues with testimony Wednesday from another witness who was at Stinson’s place the night before the fire.

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