Alexander Jarvis was denied bail on Jan. 26 after being charged with two counts of arson for allegedly burning one man’s residence and another man’s auto-repair shop following a disagreement over a used towel.

If convicted, Mr. Jarvis could face up to life in prison, Crown Counsel Kael London said.

After Magistrate Khadeen Palmer read the complaints, Mr. London read the allegations.

At around 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, Godfrey Gabriel was working in his garage, which is located on the same compound as Mr. Jarvis’ residence, when the defendant walked up to Mr. Gabriel and accused him of using one of his towels, Mr. London alleged.

Though Mr. Gabriel was adamant he hadn’t used the towel, Mr. Jarvis started shouting at him, saying, “‘You’re taking me for a joke; I’m going to burn down your place,”’ the prosecutor read.

After Mr. Gabriel responded, “‘If you want to put yourself in trouble, go ahead,’” the accused left and returned with a red gas bottle and started sprinkling what appeared to be gas on the garage, Mr. London alleged.

Mr. Jarvis left again, returned with a box of matches, and lit a flame, prompting Mr. Gabriel to run to a nearby water drum and extinguish the blaze, Mr. London alleged.

Mr. Gabriel then removed some vehicles from his garage and went to the West End Police Station seeking assistance, Mr. London read.

Garage on fire

While on his way to the station he received a call that his garage was on fire, and rushed back to try and salvage his belongings, but he claims that he suffered tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damages, the Crown counsel read.

Mr. London added that the fire also spread to co-complainant Kareem Hall’s residence, a wooden structure about three feet away from Mr. Godfrey’s garage, causing damage to Mr. Hall’s dwelling and personal belongings.

Mr. Jarvis’ father — a diabetic with an amputated leg who is cared for by Messrs. Jarvis and Gabriel — had to be rushed out of his house “due to the amount of smoke,” Mr. London alleged.

Police officers from the West End station later met Mr. Jarvis and informed him of the allegations against him, Mr. London read.

Mr. Jarvis replied, “‘I have nothing to say,’” Mr. London alleged, adding that police later that day invited him to participate in a cautioned interview.

Mr. Jarvis denied all the charges against him, Mr. London read.

Bail application

Although Mr. London objected to granting Mr. Jarvis bail, defence attorney Valerie Gordon argued that he should be granted bail as there is a widespread Covid-19 outbreak at Her Majesty’s Prison and his health could be threatened if he were remanded.

“You would be putting someone in a confined area where they are at risk of serious illness,” Ms. Gordon said.

She added that since Mr. Gabriel’s garage is leased on land that Mr. Jarvis owns, and since Mr. Hall no longer lives nearby, conditions could be imposed to prevent Mr. Jarvis from interfering with the two complainants.

Bail opposition

 In arguing against granting bail to the defendant, Mr. London said that the “risk” of Mr. Jarvis catching Covid “has to be balanced with the interest of justice.”

Given the allegations against Mr. Jarvis, there is a risk he could harm other residents or their property if granted bail, Mr. London said.

He also argued there is a risk of catching Covid wherever Mr. Jarvis lives, and said he has a sworn statement from the accused’s father expressing concern about Mr. Jarvis’ “mental capabilities,” Mr. London said.

After standing the court down for about ten minutes to make her decision, Ms. Palmer decided not to grant bail to Mr. Jarvis and adjourned the court until Feb. 24.