Python owner not guilty after snake killed two young boys in Canada

A Canadian man whose python escaped from his pet shop and killed two young boys has been cleared of criminal negligence causing death. Noah Barthe, four, and his six-year-old brother Connor were at a sleepover at Jean-Claude Savoie’s flat above the shop, called Reptile Ocean, in August 2013. The African rock python got out through a ventilation duct in Campbellton, New Brunswick, and dropped into the living room where the two boys were sleeping. A pathologist who carried out post-mortem examinations said both boys had died of asphyxiation.

Accidents happen, but not everyone who causes an accident is guilty of criminal negligence causing death.

Leslie Matchim, Jean-Claude Savoie’s lawyer

They were also covered in puncture wounds from snake bites. Mr Savoie’s three-year-old son, who had been sleeping in another room, was unharmed. Leslie Matchim, Mr Savoie’s lawyer, said he had thought the snake was too big to get into the duct, and so did not think it needed securing. Mr Matchim said: “There is no need to install a barrier if you’ve come to that conclusion in your mind. The pet shop owner - who was a close friend of the brothers’ family - wept in court as the jury in Campbellton delivered its verdict.