ROCKLAND — A 43-year-old Rockland man was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison for setting fire to a mobile home while a family of three slept inside.

Timothy M. Barbeau was sentenced in Knox County Unified Court on one count of arson. His penalty was 10 years in prison, with all but 30 months suspended, and three years of probation. Under the terms of his probation, he must undergo substance abuse and psychological evaluations and receive treatment if recommended. He is also barred from possessing any incendiary devices, including lighters or matches.

Barbeau will receive credit for the roughly 10 months he has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since he was arrested Nov. 8 for setting the fire at the Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Park.

He was initially charged by the state Fire Marshal’s Office with aggravated attempted murder, which carries a potential life sentence, but prosecutors did not pursue that charge, citing insufficient evidence.

Barbeau had pleaded guilty to the arson count through an Alford plea, in which he does not admit guilt but agrees the state has enough evidence to convict him. He also will be required to enroll in the Midcoast Re-entry Program in Belfast.

An affidavit filed by Fire Marshal’s Office investigator Mary MacMaster after he was arrested said Barbeau initially said he had gone to the mobile home to see if he could get marijuana, found the home already on fire and tried to extinguish the flames.

Barbeau later told MacMaster, however, that he may have blacked out because he had “been on a drunk” for several days.

According to the affidavit, Barbeau entered the home, owned by Walter Caven, two days before the fire. Suzanne Gardner, who lived at the mobile home with Caven and her 6-year-old granddaughter, said she told Barbeau not to come to their home again.

A neighbor, Michael Burns, told the investigator he had stepped outside his mobile home on Third Street shortly after 5:30 a.m. Nov. 8 when he saw someone staggering by. Burns said it was so dark he did not notice the man carrying anything at first, but then heard a splashing sound and smelled gasoline. He said Barbeau then lit the fire.

Burns ran over and tackled Barbeau, wrestling with him while at the same time using his sweatshirt to try to put out the flames. He held Barbeau until Rockland police arrived. There was minor damage to the exterior of the home.

Barbeau, who also lived at the mobile home park, is banned from returning there while on probation after he is released.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.