Lawyer for man in python death investigation speaks out on case
Published Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:01AM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, May 22, 2014 7:12PM ADT
Calls for accountability are mounting nearly 10 months after two boys were killed by a python in Campbellton, N.B.
Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault has been pushing for answers since the tragedy.
“The family is astonished why we can’t move forward,” says Arseneault. “I find it’s quite unfortunate just to hide behind a RCMP investigation that, clearly, if they haven’t done anything yet, chances are they won’t.”
Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, were killed in August 2013 while they were sleeping at an apartment located above an exotic pet store in Campbellton.
The boys were asphyxiated by a 45-kilogram African rock python that escaped its enclosure in the apartment, slithered through a ventilation system above and fell through a ceiling into the living room where they slept.
The snake was being kept illegally and the RCMP launched an investigation after the incident.
Leslie Matchim, the lawyer representing python owner Jean-Claude Savoie, says he was told late last year there would be no charges laid in the case.
“I think it’s high time that the RCMP would come forward with that,” he says.
However, he says he recently learned the lead investigator in the case, and the person he had been dealing with from the beginning, has been replaced. He says that has him concerned.
“The RCMP, at the senior levels, just don’t seem to want to take no for an answer. Notwithstanding, their lead investigator concluded no criminal charges, notwithstanding the Crown prosecutor’s office corroborated that conclusion, notwithstanding, Halifax RCMP agreed and, notwithstanding, that a senior RCMP Major Crime Unit investigator agreed,” says Matchim.
Matchim says he was even told the RCMP would hold a news conference regarding their findings earlier this year, but that never happened.
The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources also promised to look at exotic pet regulations after the incident. That investigation has been completed, and the file is now in the hands of the attorney general’s office.
Arseneault says the department had six months to lay charges, but it missed the deadline. However, there are still provisions within New Brunswick’s Fish and Wildlife Act that could still allow charges.
The Mounties will only say their investigation remains open and a decision on charges has not been made.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell