Preliminary hearing for accused Napanee arsonist set for November

Jay Bradley, seen here in a self-published video just days before his arrest, will have his case heard at a preliminary hearing in November 2024 by a judge in Napanee.

The man accused of setting fire to and destroying the old York Street arena in Napanee will have his case go to a preliminary hearing in November 2024, almost exactly one year after his arrest.

Jay Nelson Bradley was arrested on November 3, 2023 and charged with two counts of arson (with a disregard for human life), criminal harassment (with threatening conduct), and possession of incendiary material (materials designed to cause or exacerbate fire) for allegedly destroying the arena, also known as the Lennox Agricultural Society Community Centre, and a detached garage on a private property in Yarker, owned by the Society president.

In the early morning of Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, the Lennox and Addington (L&A) detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Greater Napanee Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at the Napanee Fairgrounds on York Street in Greater Napanee. That same morning, L&A County OPP and the Stone Mills Fire Department responded to a report of a garage and vehicle fire at a Stone Mills Township residence.

On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, the L&A County OPP conducted search warrants at three locations in Kingston. At that time, police arrested and charged the 49-year-old Kingston man.

Bradley had owned a roller skating rink under the name Disco Ball Events, operated out of the York Street arena, from which he had been recently evicted following a dispute with the property’s management.

Bradley was denied bail in Napanee court by Justice of the Peace Leona Dombrowsky on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, after a show-cause hearing on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. Due to a publication ban based on Section 517 of the Criminal Code of Canada, there is to be no publication of information arising during a bail hearing, nor of the reasons given by the judge until the accused is discharged, or, if they are ordered to stand trial until the trial has ended. The media can, however, publish the identity of the accused, comment on the facts and the offence that the accused has been charged with, report that a bail application has been made, and report on the outcome of the application. 

During a court appearance on Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2024, Bradley learned that his preliminary hearing will occur in November of this year.

In a preliminary hearing, the Crown will bring its evidence against an accused, primarily through witnesses who take the stand and testify. This allows the defence to evaluate the case against an accused. Most often, no defence is mounted at this stage.

After the preliminary hearing, the accused is either “committed to trial” (sent to trial) if the evidence is sufficient or “discharged” (essentially acquitted) if the evidence is insufficient. Generally speaking, there must be evidence capable of convicting the accused for a case to go to trial.

In Canada, the charge of arson with a disregard for human life is always treated as an indictable offence and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

This is an ongoing story. Kingstonist will provide updates if and when they become available.

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