A man who terrorized the Old Strathcona area and set fire to several cars in April was homeless, unemployed and suicidal, court was told on Thursday.

Malice Sutton pleaded guilty to four criminal charges, including arson, assault with a weapon, arson causing property damage and possession of an explosive device.  

Sutton, 23, had been homeless and unemployed for months, according to a four-page agreed statement of facts read out in Edmonton provincial court.

He had money that Friday evening and thought about buying steel-toed boots to increase his chance of getting a job. Instead, he drank a lot of vodka and became suicidal, “but lacked the urge to kill himself and instead settled on a plan to damage other people’s property,” the court document said.

Sutton bought $12 worth of gasoline and bottles of pop from an Esso station. His original plan was to damage cars in the parking lot of the Spotlight Cabaret, where he had lost his job as a dishwasher. When that plan didn’t work out, he walked to an alley just north of Whyte Avenue. 

He was carrying a jerry can of gas and a butane lighter. Sutton emptied three pop bottles and filled them with gas, stuffed torn socks into the tops and turned the bottles upside down to soak the socks to make wicks. 

He lit one Molotov cocktail and threw it. When a driver drove by, Sutton lit another wick and threw the bottle at the vehicle. It hit the front passenger door, but did not injure the driver.  

Malice Sutton in a Facebook photo dated from 2014. (Facebook/Malice Sutton )

Sutton dropped his remaining Molotov cocktail in the alley and ran off, carrying his jerry can and lighter. 

He poured gas on or under several vehicles, then set them on fire. By that time, a number of people were chasing him.

The incident made national headlines when onlookers captured the dramatic rampage on cellphone cameras. 

When Sutton went into a Starbucks cafe, he was taken to the floor by one pursuer, who held him until police arrived. Sutton has been at the Edmonton Remand Centre ever since. 

He did not have any friends or family in court when he entered his guilty pleas. 

Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga  and defence lawyer Alexandra Seaman have requested a detailed forensic assessment be completed before Sutton is sentenced.

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