It’s true that there are at least two sides to every story. And we accept that in a court of law a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.
If we trust our police and judicial systems we feel confident offenders will be identified and justice done… all in a timely fashion. But the two year prison term handed to a convicted two-time local arsonist this week puts that trust to the test in a big way.
Lee Wilding torched his second church (Kinnaird Church of God) earlier this year, shortly after being released from jail for lighting up the first.
The 2013 arson totally destroyed St. Rita’s Church Sanctuary and the Kinnaird blaze caused about a half million dollars damage. There was no loss of life in either incident but, there could have been.
The point is that local citizens will feel relatively immune from further such blatant criminal acts for only as long as the offender is imprisoned. Two years… for a 19-year old? It’s been more than a year since the St. Rita’s congregation lost its sanctuary, and it’ll quite likely be well over two years in total before they have a replacement.
As detailed in Greg Nesteroff’s front page story, the latest (Kinnaird) arson did not appear to be a random, impulsive act. Supplies were reportedly purchased ahead of time and the burning scheme was clearly formulated.
Lee Wilding will have two years to ponder the wrongs he’s done, two years during which the burden of decision making will be taken off his plate. To come up with any sort of an explanation for his actions… and an assurance that it won’t happen again, will take, in our opinion, a good deal longer than two years.