NEWS

Charges pending in python deaths of Barthe brothers in Campbellton

02/06/2015 10:45 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
Charges are pending in connection with the strangling deaths of two boys by a python in Campbellton in 2013, say New Brunswick RCMP.

A 38-year-old Montreal man is scheduled to appear in Campbellton provincial court on April 20 at 9:30 a.m., Cpl. Chantal Farrah said in a statement on Friday.

"Details about the type of charge or charges and the identity of the individual will become public" at that time," said Farrah.

The man was arrested in the Montreal area on Thursday and released later that day, she said.

Police have not identified the man, but lawyer Leslie Matchim has confirmed it is his client, Jean-Claude Savoie, the owner of Reptile Ocean pet store in Campbellton.

Savoie was the subject of a criminal investigation after Connor Barthe, 6, and his brother Noah, 4, were killed on Aug. 5, 2013, by an African rock python that escaped from its enclosure in Savoie's apartment, located above the pet store.

The boys were attending a sleepover with Savoie's son, who was in another room and unharmed, police have said.

​Autopsies determined the boys died as a result of being asphyxiated by the snake, which weighed about 45 kg and was up to 4.5 metres long.

Officials have said they believe the snake made its way through the top of its enclosure and into a ventilation system before falling through the ceiling and into the living room of the apartment where the boys were sleeping.

African rock pythons, non-venomous snakes that typically kill by constricting their victims, are not permitted in New Brunswick, under the province's Exotic Wildlife Regulation, officials have said.

The only exceptions granted would be for accredited zoos, not for someone to keep an illegal exotic animal as a pet.

Reptile Ocean was an unlicensed zoo and pet store, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources officials have said.

Environment Canada assisted the Moncton SPCA in relocating the African rock python to Reptile Ocean in Campbellton in 2002.

A report from a task force, struck by the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources to review the province’s exotic animal laws and regulations and recommend changes to prevent future tragedies, is expected in March.

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