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Preliminary hearing begins for man accused of setting seven rural fires

Justin Beal is accused of setting seven fires around Wellington County in 2016 and 2017
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Justin Beal appears at an earlier court hearing in 2017. GuelphToday file photo

The preliminary hearing of a man charged with setting seven rural fires in 2016 and 2017 began in Guelph on Wednesday.

Justin Beal, 29, stands accused of setting the fires over an eight-month period from Oct. 14, 2016 to June 25, 2017.

In a Guelph courtroom Wednesday Beal chose to be tried by judge and jury. A trial date has not yet been set.

There is a publication ban on any evidence presented at the three-day preliminary hearing.

In October of 2017 Beal was arrested in Rockwood and charged with six counts of arson. In January of 2018 he was charged with setting a seventh fire.

The fires took place in Wellington County and involved abandoned barns, sheds and buildings.

The fires he is charged with setting are:

  • Oct. 14, 2016: abandoned barn onThird Line Guelph/Eramosa Township.

  • Oct. 19, 2016: abandoned farmhouse on Third Line, Guelph/Eramosa Township.

  • Dec. 5, 2016: abandoned barn on Fife Road, Guelph/Eramosa Township

  • Feb. 3, 2017: shed on Highway 7, Guelph/Eramosa Township

  • Feb. 3, 2017: abandoned house and barn fire on Township Road 3, Guelph/Eramosa Township.

  • June 25, 2017: abandoned gatehouse, Sideroad 10, Erin

  • June 25, 2017: abandoned house and barn Wellington Road 125, Erin