Bank firebomber sentenced to three-and-a-half years

December 7
OTTAWA — A retired bureaucrat who firebombed a Glebe bank has been sentenced to slightly more than three-and-half years in prison Tuesday.

Roger Clement, 58, stood quietly with his head slightly down as Ontario Court Célynne Dorval delivered her sentence, chastising him for showing no remorse beyond a guilty plea and offering no real explanation for his actions.

Clement pleaded guilty last month to arson for the May 18 fire at 3:50 a.m. that caused $1.6 million in damage to the Royal Bank branch at 745 Bank St. He also pleaded guilty to mischief for vandalizing another RBC branch at Bank and Heron Road on Feb. 1.

Four separate surveillance videos taken from the lobby of the bank showed Clement, in a black jacket and balaclava, pouring gasoline across the floor in front of the automated teller machines. A second man is then seen igniting the blaze with a Molotov cocktail. The two men flee as the lobby explodes with bright orange flames.

A fifth video of the firebombing, shot from outside the bank by a third person and later posted to the Internet from a Somerset Street café, was also played in court during Clement’s sentencing hearing Monday. That video was accompanied by a manifesto denouncing RBC for its role in the Vancouver Olympics and vowing that an Ottawa anarchist group, which had taken credit for the bombing, would be present for the pending G8 and G20 summits being held in the Toronto area.

In court Monday, Clement said he “regretted” the inconvenience the firebombing caused. He said he did it as a partial protest toward the bank’s policies toward the Olympics and the Alberta tarsands.

Court heard Clement and his accomplices waited two hours and 20 minutes before firebombing the bank in an apparent effort to make sure it was empty.

Clement was linked to the bombing within hours of the explosion after Ottawa police intelligence officer Isabelle Lemieux, acting on a hunch, discovered him driving a rented white GMC Acadia similar to the one observed being driven by the firebombers.

She followed Clement to the café, where the video was posted. Police also followed Clement to a wooded area near Bancroft where he buried a computer containing four different versions of the manifesto as well as a 28-second unedited clip of the firebombing video allegedly posted by the anarchists.

A second man, Matthew Morgan-Brown, had at one point been charged in connection with the firebombing, although his charges were stayed following Clement’s plea.

Assistant Crown attorney Mark Holmes said charges against Morgan-Brown, 32, were being stayed because there was insufficient evidence against him.

A third man, Claude Haridge, 50, is charged with the careless storage of ammunition stemming from the firebombing investigation. He has yet to enter a plea.

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