‘Ice Road Truckers’ star pleads guilty to arson by causing explosion in Yellowknife apartment while making cannabis resin

Yellowknife Courthouse (CKLB File photo).

A star of the reality television show Ice Road Truckers has pleaded guilty in a Yellowknife courtroom to “arson by negligence” for causing an explosion while trying to make shatter, a form of cannabis resin, not unlike hashish.

CKLB has chosen not to use the 65-year-old man’s name because this is his first criminal conviction and it appears to have been an unfortunate accident.

(It is not Yellowknife resident Alex Deborgorski)

Court heard that the man was in the bathroom of his downtown Yellowknife apartment in November of 2018 when, while using butane to add to marijuana to make the shatter, an explosion and fire occurred causing almost $70,000 damage.

It blew the door right off its hinges and caused things to fall off the walls in at least one neighbouring unit, court heard.

The man himself was badly burned and spent 12 days in Stanton Hospital recovering.

He initially told RCMP that the explosion happened as he was refilling a butane lighter but eventually came clean and explained to Mounties what really happened.

Police never reported the incident to the public.

Marijuana had just been legalized at the time.

Several tenants of the North Slave Housing Corporation building on 54 St., mostly women, were displaced from their homes by the explosion and had to be put up in a local hotel for about a week while repairs were made.

The man apologized to the court profusely and said it was the stupidest thing he has ever done.

In a joint submission, the Crown prosecutor and the man’s lawyer called for 18 months of house arrest and a restitution order.

But the judge had a problem with that because the man currently drives the ice road up to the diamond mines and lives in his big rig in a trucking compound in Kam Lake.

“I want to be clear, I’m not sentencing a man who lives in his truck to house arrest,” Judge Donovan Molloy told the court.

The judge said it would be too difficult to ensure whether the man was abiding by his curfew when he had no real home.

Molloy will sentence the man on March 27, when the ice road season should be over and the man has an actual address.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.