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Emmanuel McFadzean acquitted of arson charges

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2024. 10:26 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: Emmanuel McFadzean, a former Belize Coast Guard member, was acquitted of arson charges today, nearly two years after being accused of setting fire to three vessels. The 32-year-old, who was dismissed from the Coast Guard in 2022 following the incident, was overcome with emotion as he hugged his family outside the courtroom.

The trial, presided over by Justice Derick Sylvester, concluded with a unanimous not guilty verdict from the jury, composed of six men and three women. The deliberation lasted just under four hours.

The prosecution alleged that on October 22, 2022, McFadzean caused the fire that destroyed one vessel worth $666,000 and damaged two others. The case was based on circumstantial evidence, with two witnesses claiming to have seen McFadzean near the scene. However, no direct evidence linked him to the arson.

McFadzean testified that he was on a vessel speaking with his wife and later assisted in moving the boats to prevent further damage when the fire broke out. Expert witnesses provided conflicting testimonies, with one suggesting the fire was accidental.

Represented by attorney Bryan Neal, McFadzean now plans to take legal action against the Coast Guard for wrongful dismissal. He expressed relief and joy at the verdict, surrounded by his supportive family, including his wife and two daughters.

 

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