Robert Patrick Gill, the Bank Street arsonist who spread fears of terrorism after setting fires at the offices of a U.S. defence contract agency and the High Commission of Bangladesh in 2008, is now being investigated as the prime suspect in a deadly drunk-driving crash while he was on parole in North Bay.

It was 9:50 p.m. on Friday, May 10, and Eileen Young, 80, was just 20 seconds from home when her car collided with another on Highway 63 just outside North Bay’s city limits.

Gill, living at a halfway house, was on parole conditions that prohibited him from drinking or leaving city limits. According to his parole files, Gill, now 42, broke both those rules by being outside city limits. The parole files also reveal his breathalyzer test administered by the OPP’s North Bay detachment registered as “impaired.”

Gill has not been charged in the deadly May crash, and OPP have not returned calls for information on their investigation. It is understood that investigators are awaiting toxicology results from the lab.

Gill, who was sentenced to 11 years in 2008 for arson and dozens of break and enters, has been given plenty of chances by the prison system and the parole board. He won parole back in 2014 but it was revoked in 2016 after he breached his release conditions. But the parole board, citing model behaviour in prison, again gave him another chance and paroled him in 2018.

Gill stayed out of trouble until March 18, 2019, when he drank a cheap bottle of wine before returning to the halfway house in North Bay. He tested positive for alcohol and was arrested. The halfway house withdrew its support, which normally means the parolee goes back to prison. But in this case, Gill met with a parole officer and explained away his drinking, saying his ex-wife was causing him stress and he was upset about all he had lost, according to his parole documents.

The parole officer decided that Gill was a manageable risk to society and gave him a pass, sparing him a return to prison and instead giving him another chance at the halfway house in North Bay.

Two months later on May 10, and still on parole, Gill, took to drinking again, according to his parole file, and found himself driving outside city limits on Highway 63. He collided with Eileen Young’s car. Young was seconds from home after supper at a friend’s down the road.

Young was 80 but just like her name, she looked exactly that — “full of spirit and life,” said son-in-law Dan Seguin.

She was the “hoot” of the party at all the family gatherings, and looked 25 years younger than the average 80-year-old grandmother. She raised three children and made an honest dollar working at Walmart after her husband died.

“She was a wonderful woman,” said daughter Rhonda Seguin.

They said Eileen Young will be deeply missed, and by all accounts, there’s a lot to miss.

Gill’s arson streak on Bank Street had nothing to do with terrorism, court heard in 2008. He told court “it was nothing personal” and his lawyer billed the crime scenes as random targets that Gill set fire to twice, two weeks apart. He broke into the offices with a crowbar and stole stuff, and, once on the same night, returned to the scene of the crime to set fires to cover his fingerprints.

After setting fire to a photocopier, he stood in the building and watched it burn for 30 minutes. Another time, he stood across the street and watched as Ottawa firefighters put out the fire he set. Police tracked him down after reviewing security video and Gill was arrested after leaving his home to get a hot dog for breakfast.

In the days following the 2008 blazes, public speculation about the fires was rampant, including whether it was terrorism.

When Ontario Court Justice Ann Alder sentenced Gill to 11 years in 2008, she said: “There was a fear it may have been terrorism, given the society we live in. It had an effect all throughout Ottawa, Canada and even internationally, given the tenants in that building.”

At sentencing in 2008, Gill, in a shaky voice, told the judge he just wants to get help for his “problem” and figure out why he has committed 53 break-ins.

“I didn’t think it was going to turn out like this,” he told court back then.

Gill, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of arson and five counts of breaking and entering. The damage Gill caused was estimated at more than $7 million.

“If there is a next time,” Alder told him, “it’s very likely you’ll be spending the rest of your life in jail.”

Source: North Bay Nugget