Chilliwack man convicted of botched home invasion at grow-op

Ronald McDowell avoided more serious charge after allegedly throwing gasoline on a man

This story originally appeared in the Chilliwack Times in February 2016.

A botched home invasion at a house with a medical marijuana grow operation earned a Chilliwack man convictions for assault, uttering threats and break and enter in provincial court Monday (Feb. 1, 2016).

But despite being alleged to have thrown gasoline on a man and pouring fuel on a pole outside a home, Ronald George McDowell, 50, avoided the indictable charge of possession of incendiary material, which could have earned him up to five years in jail.

It was April 3, 2014 after midnight when a man and a woman heard pounding on the back door of their rural Fairfield Island home.

The man attended the door, unlocked it and then fought to keep it closed as someone tried to push their way into the residence.

The man testified that he told McDowell, who was pushing his way in, that there were kids in the house.

“I don’t care,” McDowell reportedly responded. “We are coming for the weed.”

At some point pepper spray or gasoline was apparently thrown at the man inside the house, after which McDowell fled. The man gave chase and threw a rock at McDowell who then poured gasoline on a pole in front of the property and said, “I’m going to light it up.”

There was, however, never any fire.

McDowell then fled in a pickup truck along with his co-accused, Earl Howard Wiebe, 54, who was found guilty on Nov. 30, 2015 of uttering threats and a lesser included charged connected to the break and enter.

A call to 911 dispatched officers to the area, and the men were pulled over on Hope River Road at around 1:45 a.m. and arrested.

McDowell is known to police and six years ago was sentenced to five years in jail for a string of robberies, a sentence reduced to 34 months as he was given double time for 13 months in pre-trial custody.

He was first charged with 15 counts connected to eight robberies at Chilliwack and Abbotsford businesses in 2008. He was eventually found guilty of robbing a Sparkes Corn Barn, Characters Beer and Wine Store and a McDonald’s restaurant in Abbotsford as well as assault during an attempted robbery at a Yale Road Subway.

His appeal of that sentence was dismissed in 2010.

And in 1984 McDowell was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on a total of 37 charges which included 25 break and enters and four break and enters with intent.

A pre-sentence report is scheduled to be heard for Wiebe on Feb. 26, and McDowell is due in court March 29.

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