NEWS

Jean-Claude Savoie Arrested In Connection To Boys Killed By Python In New Brunswick

02/05/2015 02:06 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
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CAMPBELLTON, N.B. - The man who owned the python that killed two young boys in New Brunswick in August 2013 has been arrested in the case, his lawyer said Thursday.

Leslie Matchim said Jean-Claude Savoie was arrested Thursday by police in the Montreal area, but he doesn't know what charge or charges his client may face.

Savoie moved from Campbellton, N.B., where the boys died to live in the Montreal area, Matchim said.

"It certainly by no means was any attempt to evade anything," Matchim said in an interview. "I've mentioned on several occasions in my dealings with the police where he is located."

Earlier Thursday, the RCMP said one person was arrested and is in custody in Quebec. Cpl. Chantal Farrah said no charges have been laid but the investigation is ongoing.

Noah Barthe, 4, and his six-year-old brother Connor were found dead on Aug. 5, 2013, after an African rock python escaped its enclosure inside Savoie's apartment where they were staying for a sleepover.

The RCMP said at the time that the 45-kilogram snake escaped a glass tank inside the apartment through a vent and slithered through a ventilation pipe, but its weight caused the pipe to collapse and it fell into the living room where the boys were sleeping.

The 4.3-metre long python asphyxiated the boys, autopsies said.

In May last year, Matchim said he was told by the RCMP that there would be no charges against Savoie. At the time, he said he was told by the lead investigator in December 2013 that the RCMP had the file reviewed by a Mountie in Halifax, a senior RCMP officer in Campbellton and a Crown prosecutor in New Brunswick — and they all concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate.

But the RCMP said no decision on charges had been made and last July, they said their investigation was complete and they handed the case to the Crown to determine whether charges should be laid.

African rock pythons have been banned in New Brunswick since 1992 unless a permit is obtained. Only accredited zoos can obtain such a permit.

Savoie also owned the Reptile Ocean exotic pet store located below the apartment where the boys died.

Twenty-three reptiles that were banned without a permit in New Brunswick were seized from the pet store after the deaths of the boys. Four American alligators that were also taken from the store were euthanized.

The New Brunswick government has appointed a task force to examine the province's exotic animal laws and regulations as a result of the boys' deaths. It is expected to give its report to the government by the end of March.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.