Yellowknife

Man receives house arrest after explosion damages YK apartment


A man from Prince Edward Island on Wednesday received an 18-month conditional sentence – also known as house arrest – for his role in damaging a Yellowknife apartment building in 2018. 

In early November 2018, Arthur “Art” Burke caused an explosion at the building on 54 Street, according to the agreed statement of facts in the case.

At the time he was trying to make shatter – a cannabis concentrate that involves butane, a highly flammable gas – in his apartment bathroom. 

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In February 2020, Burke pleaded guilty to one charge of arson by negligence for the incident.

He is known by some for his appearance on the reality TV series Ice Road Truckers. 

The explosion caused more than $75,000 in damage to the North Slave Housing Corporation building and hotel costs for residents displaced during repairs.

Burke suffered significant burns to his arms and feet. He spent 12 days in hospital as a result.

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Judge Donovan Molloy said the incident was a result of Burke’s “stupidity.” Burke had discharged a large quantity of butane in an enclosed space, then lit a lighter.

Molloy noted tenants took pride in the apartment building, including a group of older women who referred to it as the “Golden Girls estate.” 

Territorial Court Judge Donovan Molloy

A file photo of Judge Donovan Molloy.

Both the Crown prosecutor and Burke’s defence lawyer had agreed to the conditional sentence of 18 months. They agreed Burke should pay $20,596 in restitution, to be split between the housing corporation and two insurance companies.

Even so, Molloy said he felt the sentence to be “unfit.” The judge noted the restitution amounts to only a quarter of the overall cost of the damage Burke caused.

He added, however, that Canadian judges have little discretion to disregard joint submissions during sentencing.

For the first six months of Burke’s sentence, he will be required to be at his residence in Prince Edward Island for 24 hours a day. The lone exceptions are when driving his wife to and from work, and from noon to 4pm on Tuesdays to buy groceries.

For the following six months he will be confined to his home from 8pm to 7am, then 10pm to 6pm for the remainder of his sentence.

The conditions of Burke’s sentence include that he report to a corrections officer, abstain from consuming drugs or alcohol, and not possess any firearms, weapons, or a crossbow.

Burke’s sentencing was delayed several times as lawyers had originally proposed that Burke serve part of his conditional sentence in his transport truck in the Northwest Territories. Burke also failed to appear on time at a court appearance by video in August. 

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