Man who set fire to home with sleeping family inside gets 30 months

By Stephen Betts | Sep 14, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts Timothy Barbeau is pictured at his initial court appearance in November 2016.

Rockland — A 43-year-old Rockland man was sentenced Thursday, Sept. 14, to 30 months in prison for setting fire to a mobile home while a family of three slept inside.

Justice Joyce Wheeler accepted an agreement reached between the District Attorney's Office and the defense in the case of Timothy M. Barbeau, who was sentenced in Knox County Unified Court for one count of arson.

The full sentence was 10 years with all but 30 months suspended, to be followed by three years' probation. Terms of his probation include that he undergo substance abuse and psychological evaluations and receive treatment if recommended. Barbeau is also barred from using alcohol or illegal drugs and cannot possess any incendiary devices, including lighters and matches, while on probation.

Barbeau has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since his arrest Nov. 8 for setting the fire at the mobile home in the Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Park. He will receive credit for the approximately 10 months he has been in jail.

Barbeau was initially charged by the state Fire Marshal's Office with aggravated attempted murder, but the District Attorney's Office did not pursue that charge, citing insufficient evidence. That charge carried a potential life sentence.

An affidavit filed by Fire Marshal Investigator Mary MacMaster at the time of the arrest stated that she questioned Barbeau at the Rockland police station and the suspect initially said he had gone to the mobile home to see if he could get any marijuana, and when he got to the home, it was on fire and he tried to extinguish the flames.

Barbeau later told MacMaster, however, that he may have blacked out because he had "been on a drunk" for several days.

According to the affidavit, Barbeau had entered the home owned by Walter Caven two days before the fire when there was no one else home. Suzanne Gardner, who lived at the mobile home with Caven and her 6-year-old granddaughter, said she told Barbeau not to come to their home again.

A neighbor to the home set on fire, Michael Burns, told the investigator he had stepped outside his mobile home on Third Street shortly after 5:30 a.m. Nov. 8, when he saw someone staggering by his home and the neighboring trailer. Burns said it was so dark he did not notice the man carrying anything at first, but then he heard a splashing sound and smelled gasoline. He said Barbeau then lit the fire.

Burns said he ran over and tackled Barbeau and wrestled with him while at the same time using the suspect's sweatshirt to try to put out the flames.

Burns held Barbeau until Rockland police arrived.

Barbeau lived at the same mobile home park, but is banned from returning there while on probation after he is released.

There was minor damage to the exterior of the home.

Barbeau pleaded guilty through an "Alford" plea in which he is not admitting guilt, but agreed the state had enough evidence to convict him. Barbeau will also be required to enroll in the Midcoast Re-entry Program in Belfast.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody prosecuted the case. Barbeau was represented by attorney Jeremy Pratt of Camden.

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