Python owner arrested in deaths of N.B. brothers
The man who kept an illegal rock python that strangled New Brunswick brothers has been arrested. The boys were killed after the 45-kg snake escaped its enclosure at family friend Jean-Claude Savoie’s apartment. The apartment was above Savoie’s pet store, Retile Ocean, where police later seized 27 illegal animals. REUTERS/David Smith
The man who kept an illegal rock python that strangled New Brunswick brothers Noah and Connor Barthe has been arrested.
Brothers Noah Barthe, 4, and Connor, 6, died of asphyxiation Aug. 5, 2013, after the 45-kg snake escaped its enclosure in family friend Jean-Claude Savoie's Campbellton apartment, where they were sleeping over.
The apartment was above Savoie's pet store, Reptile Ocean, where police later seized 27 illegal animals.
Savoie's son, a friend of the Barthe boys, had been sleeping in another room and was unharmed.
Savoie was investigated, but police did not recommend pressing charges. They closed the case in April 2014 and handed the investigation over to the Crown prosecutor's office.
On Thursday, RCMP announced that a person had been arrested in Quebec in connection to the brothers' deaths, but wouldn't say who. No charges have yet been laid.
Savoie's lawyer, Leslie Matchim, confirmed Mounties have Savoie in custody. The former pet store owner has been living in the Montreal area since the tragedy.
Matchim said he was under the impression the police investigation was long closed. Today's arrest, he said, may have been based on recommendations from the Crown prosecutor's office.
"I have every reason to suspect that Mr. Savoie will simply be released," he said.
The tragedy prompted jurisdictions all over Canada to examine their exotic animal laws and crack down people keeping dangerous and illegal pets.
After the boys' deaths, the New Brunswick seized 27 illegal reptiles from Savoie's store. The python and four American alligators, were euthanized. The other critters -- including 20 non-lethal snakes and a turtle -- were moved to zoos in New Brunswick and Ontario.
New Brunswick struck a task force to examine the issue, headed by zoo director Bruce Dougan.
That task force is set to release its recommendations in March.