NEWS

Charges laid in 2007 west-end arson spree

12/21/2011 05:18 EST | Updated 02/20/2012 05:12 EST

Forensic evidence recovered near a string of arsons that damaged 13 west-end homes has led to the arrest of a suspect, police said, four years after the crimes.

Dallas Rostant, 30, has been charged in connection to the series of fires, which struck several houses in the early morning in summer 2007. Police said all the fires were set within a half-hour period.

Rostant, who has already been serving a sentence behind bars on unrelated charges, appeared in an orange jumpsuit at an Old City Hall courtroom Wednesday to answer to the 2007 arson charges.

Police say that between 4:26 a.m. and 4:56 a.m. on July 2 that year, 13 houses were damaged by blazes that were intentionally set. The targets were all within a one kilometre radius in the Christie Pits neighbourhood, west of the downtown core.

Although nobody was injured, the estimated cost of damage exceeded $1 million, Det.-Sgt. Ian MacArthur told a news conference Wednesday.

'We don't know who's next'

"This affected 13 residences, including homes, garages, porches, fences and vehicles. Some of the fires resulting caused damage to adjacent property, including damage from heat and damage from smoke," MacArthur said, adding that the city also incurred big costs for deploying multiple fire, EMS and police crews to the scene.

Homeowners in the area affected by the spate of arsons, between Shaw and Christie streets, said they were relieved to hear a suspect had been caught.

"We were nervous because we don't know who's next. Who he will hit next," said Leander Felix. "I'm happy they caught a person."

Peter McGee, another neighbour, said the area is home to a lot of families with children.

Police were able to build a DNA profile from items seized from the crime scene. They later linked the physical evidence to Rostant, who "has been in custody for at least the past two years" and is serving time at the Bath Institution on the north shore of Lake Ontario, MacArthur said.

Rostant was already behind bars for a series of break and enters in 2010. As part of his sentence, he had to submit a DNA sample.

He faces nine counts of arson disregard for human life, nine counts of arson to property, possession of incendiary material, and theft under $5,000.

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