Orléans explosion suspect was accused of breaking into Kanata construction site

Kody Crosby, 35, is accused of arson in last month's explosion at a construction site in east Ottawa.  (Kody Crosby/Facebook - image credit)
Kody Crosby, 35, is accused of arson in last month's explosion at a construction site in east Ottawa. (Kody Crosby/Facebook - image credit)

The man accused of arson in the explosion that rocked an Orléans housing development last month had been accused of breaking into and damaging a different construction site on the other side of Ottawa four years earlier, court records show.

But those charges against Kody Crosby were later withdrawn.

On Thursday, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) announced 12 charges against the 35-year-old Crosby in connection with the major Feb. 13 explosion at Minto's Avalon Vista development in east Ottawa.

Four homes were destroyed and others were badly damaged by the early morning explosion. Firefighters said at the time a gas leak triggered the blast.

Two men were pulled from the wreckage and rushed to hospital in serious but stable condition, while two children and two more adults were taken to local hospitals in stable condition.

Crosby now faces four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, six arson charges against people and property and two counts of breaking and entering.

None of the current charges have been proven in court.

But Crosby was known to police years before the explosion. According to documents obtained by CBC, he has a long court record that includes many previous charges of breaking and entering, theft, property damage and breach of probation.

Pleaded guilty to 2016 break-ins

Crosby pleaded guilty to some of those charges, including a string of business break-ins and the theft of a vehicle in April 2016. It's not clear what sentence was imposed in that case.

Many other charges against Crosby have been withdrawn, including dozens of alleged offences in 2019.

Among the withdrawn charges that year were four centering on allegations he broke into Mattamy Homes' Blackstone development in Kanata in October 2019.

Kody Crosby/Facebook
Kody Crosby/Facebook

Police alleged at the time that Crosby broke into two homes under construction on Rouncey Road, damaged the homes' front doors and committed theft.

It's not clear from the court records why the charges were withdrawn.

Crosby's lawyer, Natasha Calvinho, declined to comment Friday on the 2019 allegations against her client.

Crosby was also accused of breaking into a plumbing and heating business on Algoma Road on Christmas Day in 2018. That charge was also withdrawn.

Connection to Minto site unclear

Much about Crosby, including any potential connection to the Minto construction site before the explosion, remains unclear.

Staff Sgt. Cameron Graham with the OPS arson unit declined to say whether Crosby was at the Minto site when the explosion happened or whether he was injured, citing concerns over the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

Crosby was not an employee of Minto "as far as we know," Graham said, adding that investigators would "need to look further into that because there's a whole bunch of subcontractors involved."

Minto itself declined to answer whether Crosby was an employee, deferring questions to police.

Guy Quenneville/CBC
Guy Quenneville/CBC

CBC has reached out to over a dozen subcontractors the Ministry of Labour says have been involved in the Avalon Vista project over the past five years. Six companies so far have indicated no sign of knowing Crosby.

Ottawa police took over as the lead law enforcement agency five days after the blast, Graham said, when a study of the reconstructed debris pointed to "a criminal action [that] set in motion a chain of events" likely leading to the explosion.

The cause of the blast is also under investigation by the Office of the Fire Marshal.