Guilty plea entered in arson attack on Langley family

Andre Richard pleaded guilty Monday to four charges linked to the arson attack on an occupied Langley home last April.

Richard, bearded and clutching a Bible, appeared briefly in Surrey Provincial Court to enter pleas on four counts, including arson with disregard for human life, breaking and entering to commit an offense, and two counts of aggravated assault.

On April 2, Richard stormed the Langley Meadows-area house of his estranged wife, leaving the home ablaze and two people injured. The victims managed to escape the burning home and two of the three occupants were hospitalized. At the time of the incident, police said a weapon had been used in the attack, but they did not say what kind.

Richard fled the scene, leaving an injured woman and girl. He was arrested later that week near Fernie, in southeastern B.C.

He initially faced 13 charges, including three counts of attempted murder and a number of counts of assault with a weapon.

Richard has specifically pleaded guilty to a count of arson committed while knowing or reckless of the possibility that people could be inside the structure. The maximum penalty under Canadian law is life in prison.

The maximum penalty for aggravated assault is 14 years in prison.

At the time of the attack on the occupants of the Langley home, Richard was under a no-contact order banning him from being in the presence of his wife. The two had already separated before the assault.

Following the fire, police almost immediately began searching for Richard.

He was arrested thanks to a tip about an erratic driver, after another motorist thought he was drunk. Police pulled him over and took him into custody without further violence.

After Richard entered his plea, Crown lawyer Michael Fortino asked for a pre-sentencing report “with a psychological component.”

A sentencing hearing has been tentatively scheduled for March 5.

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