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Oshawa man charged in case of Durham containment room

This abandoned farmhouse in Pickering, pictured in 2011, was believed to house a "confinement room" in the basement, according to Durham police. The house was destroyed in a fire in January 2012.

The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen

A 44-year-old Oshawa man is responsible for building a confinement room in the basement of an abandoned farm house northeast of Toronto, police say.

Robert Edwin White has been arrested and charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit an offence. He has been held in police custody for a bail hearing.

Durham Regional Police say Mr. White constructed the room and that it was designed to hold someone captive. A spokeswoman said he intended to use it in order to commit a crime, but would not release any details on what exactly he was planning.

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"The intent is that, perhaps, there was a plan to bring someone there," said Sergeant Nancy van Rooy.

There is no evidence the room was ever used for its intended purpose.

Mr. White is the only person charged. Police would not say if they are looking for other suspects or if he is believed to have acted alone.

Mr. White was arrested Monday and faced a show-cause hearing Tuesday. He remained in custody and will appear again Wednesday in Oshawa court for a bail hearing.

The house sits on Seventh Concession Road, near York/Durham line, north of the Toronto suburb of Pickering. The property is owned by Transport Canada, which expropriated it to build a future airport.

Abandoned for years, the federal government wanted to demolish the house in 2010, but held off while Pickering tried to find someone to buy and move the historic structure. It was inspected a little over a year ago. When contractors returned in November, they discovered the room, which appeared to have been built recently.

In January, a suspicious fire burned the structure to the ground, destroying the room. No one has been charged in connection with the blaze.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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