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Man Who Firebombed Bank Gets Three-Year Sentence

Investigators sift through damage on May 19, 2010 caused by a firebomb at an Ottawa bank.

A retired federal bureaucrat has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for firebombing an Ottawa bank.

Roger Clement targeted the RBC branch last May to protest the bank’s connections to the Alberta oilsands and the 2010 Olympics.

Court had heard that the 58-year-old had a long history of activism and a troubled family past.

But Judge Celynne Dorval said nothing in his history, or his motives, shed enough light on why he committed the crime.

Clement told his sentencing hearing on Monday that he regretted the consequences of his actions and intends to use his time more wisely once he’s free.

“This is not an expression of remorse,” Dorval said Tuesday.

The Crown had argued for a six-year sentence to send a message that such crimes aren’t tolerated by society, while the defence said a lesser sentence would serve the same goal.

Dorval said she weighed Clement’s political motives and desire to incite further criminal activity against his personal history.

“(He is) a man who worked hard all his life, who cared for others all his life,” she said.

“But his remorse is limited to a plea of guilty when faced with compelling evidence.”

Police had tracked Clement immediately after the bombing and found he was the one who posted a video of the fire online, along with a manifesto that called on others to take similar actions.

During their investigation, police uncovered his computer, where they found emails from Clement talking about how that attack had “lifted my spirits.”

The incident happened just before the G8 and G20 summits in Huntsville, Ont., and Toronto, sparking fears it was the start of more violence to come at the meetings.

Court was told police relied on video surveillance footage from the bank and a nearby embassy to identify the attackers.

Claude Haridge, 50, and Matthew Morgan-Brown, 32, were also arrested in the case but their charges have been stayed.

Clement’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, characterized the verdict as fair, noting his client had been prepared for much more.

“It something that he has been looking at for months and this puts an end to the anticipation of what penalties he is going to have to serve,” Greenspon told reporters outside court.

Greenspon told the court Clement was the rock of his troubled family.

Clement’s father committed suicide in 1961 so the family could use his insurance money to pay for medical treatments. Clement spent the early 1990s caring for his mother after she had a brain hemorrhage. He retired early from his job with the Canadian International Development Agency to care for a sister with breast cancer, who ultimately took her own life as well.

Clement also has a brother with schizophrenia and the night before the firebombing, court heard, Clement had to pick him up and have him committed to a mental health institution.

“While that may have added stress, that does not explain what triggered the planning of this act,” Dorval said.

Clement was also sentenced to six months in prison for a February attack on a different RBC branch.

But he’ll only serve the three-and-a-half years in prison because he was given credit for the time already served.

There was no reaction from the packed courtroom to the sentence and Clement’s supporters declined to speak to reporters afterwards.