From Kevin Bissett,The Canadian Press—Nov. 2,2016
Python had escaped in weeks before brothers’deaths,negligence trial told
CAMPBELLTON,NB–The python that killed 2 boys had previously escaped its enclosure weeks before the tragedy, a New Brunswick court heard Wed.
Ocean Eagles,a volunteer at Jean-Claude Savoie’s reptile store,told Savoie’s criminal negligence trial in Campbellton that he told her the snake had escaped about 2 and a half weeks earlier through a ventilation duct . It soon escaped again and killed Noah Barthe,4 and Connor Barthe,6, in 2013. “He told me he was sitting down in his living room and he looked up and the snake was halfway out”,Eagles testified.
Eagles said she placed a cover over the ventilation duct,but warned Savoie,it needed to be screwed on. She said she often cared for the “dangerous” snake and fed it rabbits,but was very cautious.
“I knew what the snake was capable of. It can overtake any man,”she said.
The 2 boys died when Savoie’s 45-kg African rock python fell into the room where they slept.It’s believed the snake traveled through the ventilation duct.
Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Leslie Matchim Eagles said the snake appeared about 2 inches larger in diameter than the duct and she never thought it could escape through it.
“I would never think so when you look at the size of the snake. It would never cross my mind,”she said.
Savoie,who now lives near Montreal,owned the pet store below his apartment at the time.He wept Wednesday as the boys’ mother Mandy Trecartin,talked about her 2 sons.
She said she dropped them off for a sleepover that night certain they were in good hands.
“I felt they would be as safe with him as they would be with me,” Trecartin testified.
Trecartin says they lived behind Savoie’s apartment, and her sons were best friends with Savoie’s son. She says Savoie was a good friend,although she hasn’t seen him since Aug. 4, 2013.
They had spent that day with the boys at a farm owned by Savoie’s father,where the boys played with a lot of animals.
That evening she and her boyfriend dropped the kids at Savoie’s apartment for a sleepover,something they often did.
At 6:49 the next morning, she heard pounding on her door,and heard Savoie saying”Oh my God, your 2 kids are dead.”
She said her boyfriend went next door with Savoie,and when he came back he told her”I’s true. It’s a fucking nightmare but it’s true.”
Also Wednesday, one of the 1st officers to arrive at the scene said he was surpried such a large snake could move so quickly. But RCMP Const. Eric Maillet said Savoie was able to recapture the python.
“The snake coiled around his arm”,Maillet said.
Savoie put the snake in its enclosure,where it could be seen through a large floor to ceiling window,he said.
“The snake started hissing at us and lunging and hitting the window with its face.”
The python appeared to be trying to escape its enclosure again,said Maillet,who was concerned the snake wanted to feed and was trying to get back to the living room where the bodies of the boys were.
“It was going straight up in the air towards the vent opening,she said.He said he was quite surprised how the snake was able to stand straight up – almost reaching the vent opening.
“I didn’t expect such a large reptile to be able to do that.”
He said the snake was put in a garbage bin and removed from the building.
—Trial resumes tomorrow—Nov. 3,2016