Arsonist gets four and half years for torching family member’s cars in Oshawa and Whitby

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Published September 16, 2022 at 5:34 pm

An admitted arsonist who torched cars in Oshawa, Stouffville and Whitby last fall pled guilty to all charges and has been sentenced to more than four years in prison.

On November 24, Nicolas Coffin, 40, toured through the three communities setting the cars alight. When police responded they immediately knew it was arson, according to a Durham Region Police release at the time.

The cars Coffin lit up were parked close to homes and in some cases spread to the structure. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the blazes as everyone safely evacuated the homes.

Coffin took off from the last fire in a getaway car. Police tracked him down to the Bowmanville Cemetery where he was arrested. Investigators said at the time that Coffin knew the victims.

In June Coffin plead guilty to four counts of arson endangering life and one count of possession of incendiary material.

Now, due to court records, Coffin’s relationship with the victims has been confirmed. They were mostly members of Coffin’s family including his mother, brother and brother-in-law.

Per the court filing Coffin first went to his mother’s house in Stouffville, where she lived with her husband, around 3:30 a.m. Coffin set fire to two vehicles in the driveway. The fire spread to the house causing significant damage.

Next he drove to his friend’s house in Markham arriving shortly before 4 a.m. The friend’s parents owned two cars that were parked in the driveway, which Coffin set alight. The fire spread to the friend’s garage where it destroyed his car as well.

From there Coffin went to his brother’s place in Whitby where he set two cars on fire around 4:30 a.m. Adam, his wife and his two children, 3 and 9 years old, were in the home at the time.

The children’s bedroom were right above the garage and heat from the blaze caused damage to the house.

Finally, Coffin went to his brother-in-law’s house. There he lit another car and the fire spread to the house. The brother-in-law’s two sons, aged 8 and 11, were awoken by sound of the car exploding. Flames lit up to the boys’ room which overlooked the driveway.

It was after this last fire that Coffin took off to Bowmanville Cemetery. When police caught up and arrested him he had 3 gasoline canisters, 8 propane tanks and a propane torch in the car.

In his reasons for sentencing, released September 2, Justice Peter West said, Coffin “set each fire and immediately moved onto the next address where he set the next fire. In my view this demonstrates an indifference and callowness on Mr. Coffin’s part.”

Citing “serious aggravating factors” the Crown requested a six-year sentence, followed by 10 years of probation. ” The offences were planned, deliberate, not a spur of the moment incident and the accused intended to harm the victims by causing serious property damage. The offences involved a high degree of moral blameworthiness.”

Coffin’s lawyer Christian Amodeo, countered with a sentence of four to five years and the ten year probation term. Coffin remained in custody following his arrest, collecting 425 days in time-served credit.

Amedeo also noted that the time served pre-conviction was made more difficult due to frequent COVID lockdowns over the last year.

However, West also received victim impact statement (VIS) from nine victims of Coffin’s arson spree, which “described the horror of being awakened by explosions and fires set by Mr. Coffin.”

While none of the victims were physically hurt, West said it was “clear from the VIS that all of them have suffered considerably emotionally, financially and from health concerns brought on as a direct result of the trauma they experienced.”

“Many of the victims believed Nicholas Coffin’s intention was to not only burn their vehicles but also the houses where they were sleeping and they expressed fear he would return to finish what he started,” West continued.

Furthermore West said that being closely connected to Coffin “increases the significant horror each of them described and experienced. The victims cannot understand the motivations behind Mr. Coffin’s criminal behaviour.”

Of particular note was the effect on the children involved. They continue to experience “fear and anxiety and sleeplessness” which has “greatly impacted” them.

Editor’s note: A source close the family, who wished to remain anonymous, has reached out to Insauga with further information. The original article was sourced from Justice West’s sentencing decision which, according to the source, included incorrect information. The following has been expanded with the source’s comments.

West notes in his sentencing reasons that Coffin had recently separated from his wife prior to the arsons.

The source asserts that a third party bought out Coffin’s share of the marital home and gave him a $37,000 down payment the September before the arsons. Coffin continued to receive payments of $2,000 from this third party.

“[Coffin’s ex-wife] no way to owe[d] him anything. He sold his part of the home to the third party,” the source said.

The third party notified Coffin in writing that he was to be out of the house by month’s end or the locks would be changed.  The source said, “On the 31st day the locks were changed but he was given more than enough money to not be living in his car.”

According to the source’s account, “Even though the agreement said anything left in the house on that day was no longer his, [Coffin’s ex-wife] did pack all his clothes into suitcases and his pillow, blankets, and toiletries into Rubbermaid bins and left them on the front porch so he would have the essentials right away,”

She, “did everything Nick asked so [she] could get him out of a house he was destroying on his drug binges,” the source continued.

Months later, on June 3, Coffin went to his wife’s workplace, armed with taekwondo fighting sticks, demanding cash and a divorce. Coffin and his wife had not spoken, besides Coffin informing her he did not want to see their daughter, since he left the house.

“He wanted money because he didn’t have any and needed the money to get high. That is when Nick asked for the divorce,” the source notes.

While Coffin was trained as a welder, he was unemployed before the arsons following a string of jobs. His goal was to become a Youtube star as a rapper which his family considered “delusional.”

The victims asserted they tried to help Coffin before the arson, but he refused help. The night of his arrest Coffin said he was “angry at his family for turning their back on him while he was going through a divorce and his circumstances of living in his vehicle.”

The family told the court they believed drug use was a factor as well, reporting Coffin seemed “high as a kite” when they tried to communicate with him.

Weighing these factors, time served and Coffin’s “dangerous and abhorrent behaviour” West decided on a sentence of four years and six months, a ten-year weapons ban and a no-contact order.

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