News item from Chris Morris–Legislature Bureau—Nov. 12, 2016
Boys killed in snake attack would have fought hard : grandmother
The death of 2 little boys in a horrific snake attack was the focus of a now-finished trial in Campbellton, but for relatives of the children, it is their lives they remember,helping the family carry on despite the devastating loss.
The Barthe brothers Connor,6,and Noah,4, were very close,accdg. to their grandmother,Linda Barthe, who attended every day of the 8-day criminal negligence trial in Campbellton.
On Thursday,Jean-Claude Savoie, the owner of the almost 4-meter long python that killed the children, was found not guilty by a jury of criminal negligence causing their deaths in the 2013 tragedy.
Linda Barthe said it was difficult to sit through the trial,which included details about the attack on the children after the snake escaped its enclosure in Savoie’s apartmetn and killed the boys while they were on a sleep over.
“We had to be there for the boys,”Barthe said,who showed up everyday with her husband and the boys’ grandfather,Ernest.
“I said to myself,”The boys went through it. I can go through it.”
She said Noah,who kept everyone in the family laughing with his funny comments called “Noah-isms”,was excited to start kindergarten. Connor,serious and thoughtful and about to start Grade 2, was intensely protective of his little brother and often put his arm around the smaller chiled.
Barthe said she was told that Noah died first in teh snake attack- a detail that did not come out at trial. She said the family believes whoever was attacked first, the brothers would not leave each other.
“No matter which one was attacked first, there is no question that the other would definitely have gone to help,’Barthe said in an interview with Brunswick News.
“There would have been no hesitation. I don’t remember who told me, but I was told that Noah died first. Connor would have been right in there, fighting tooth and nail. We know he would have tried to help.”
The battle against the snake would have been uneven. The African rock python that killed the children was known to be aggressive and bad-tempered and if one child had tried to free the other, a snake expert who testified at the trial said the reptile was long enough to wrap both boys in its deadly coils and constrict.
A pathologist said the brothers died of asphyxiation.
Barthe said she often looked after the children,occasionally picking them up at their daycare and bringing them to her home in Dalhousie.
She said she always smiles when she recalls the routine the boys had when they came to her home, including asking their granddad to make pancakes-their favorite meal when visiting.
“I would sit for hours watching them play in the yard,”she said.
“there was no fighting.They were just precious,precious,precious,beautiful boys. They had big,dark eyes. Connor was such a handsome little boy and Noah was very cute. They were happy children. They were loved and they knew they were loved. I think that makes a huge difference in the life of a child-to know they are loved.”
Barthe said the family still is in pain over the loss. She said there has been counselling for some family members.Others still cannot talk about it and others just carry on as best they can.
She said there is an ache that will never go away.
“It is difficult to explain the hurt,the physical and mental hurt,when you hear something like this,”Barthe said.
‘The pain is physical. My husband said when I was told they were gone, I screamed so loud i must have woken up everyone in the neighborhood.”
Barthe said that when it comes to Savoie and the trial,there has never been any doubt in her mind that he loved the boys. She said their deaths will be a burden for him for the rest of his life, a fact acknowledged by Savoie through his defense lawyers.
“I don’t know what he will think when he closes his eyes and remembers Connor and Noah,”she said. “But i know when I close my eyes, and see them playing in my yard once again, I smile.”
After reading this article, my thoughts and prayers for all those involved.