Aftermath of fire that destroyed St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Whalley on July 19. (Photo: Shane Mackichan)

Aftermath of fire that destroyed St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Whalley on July 19. (Photo: Shane Mackichan)

Whalley church arsonist to be sentenced April 8

St. George Coptic Orthodox Church at 13905 108 Ave. was destroyed by fire on July 19, 2021

A woman who pleaded guilty to two arsons, one that destroyed a church in Whalley last July, will be sentenced in Surrey provincial court on April 8.

Kathleen Panek, 35, of no fixed address was charged with two counts of arson related to St. George Coptic Orthodox Church at 13905 108 Ave., on July 14 and on Jan. 19, which razed the church.

While nobody was physically injured, the congregation of about 250 families was left heartbroken.

“The loss of the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church has had a significant impact on members of that congregation and the greater community,” Surrey RCMP Sgt. Elenore Sturko said at the time.

READ ALSO: Surrey church congregation heartbroken by devastating fire

READ ALSO: Woman charged with arson in fire that destroyed St. George Coptic Church in Whalley

Panek was charged with two counts under the Criminal Code, 433 (a) and 434. The first says “Every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage by fire or explosion to property, whether or not that person owns the property, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life where (a) the person knows that or is reckless with respect to whether the property is inhabited or occupied.”

The second, 434, says “Every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage by fire or explosion to property that is not wholly owned by that person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.”

She remains in custody. The Crown argued for a four-year sentence less time served since her arrest on Aug. 26, 2021. Panek’s defence argued for a sentence of 18 months to two years.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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