Python deaths: ‘This could have been prevented by a simple action’ – New Brunswick

The now-retired RCMP investigator who recommended charging Campbellton python-owner Jean-Claude Savoie in the deaths of two boys killed by a snake rejects the suggestion he bowed to interference from top RCMP brass.

Retired Insp. Marc Bertrand, 60, conducted the last of three RCMP reviews of the investigation into the deaths of Connor and Noah Barthe, who were killed in August 2013 by an African rock python while on a sleepover with Savoie’s son.

Bertrand said he approached his review the way he would a cold case – essentially as a fresh investigation, rather than as an examination of the files. He said he wasn’t asked to recommend charging Savoie.

“I wasn’t given the file to take it to the Crown,” Bertrand said. “I was told to make sure the investigation is done the best it can be done.”​

Bertrand said he was brought in because the first two reviews simply looked at the original investigation file without reinterviewing witnesses or seeking new information.

The young brothers were killed by the 3.8-metre snake after it escaped its enclosure in Savoie’s apartment and fell through ceiling tiles into the boys’ room.

Review took 7 months

Bertrand said he worked on his review for at least seven months, interviewing witnesses again and talking to experts. In the end, he believed there was enough evidence to charge Savoie and forwarded the case to the Crown. 

Connor Barthe, 6, and his brother Noah, 4, were killed in August 2013 by an African rock python that escaped from its cage in a building where the boys were sleeping. (Facebook/Canadian Press)

Savoie was charged with criminal negligence causing death and was later acquitted.

But the decision to charge Savoie in the first place bewildered another former Mountie, who had also reviewed the case and concluded a charge wasn’t warranted.

In an interview earlier this month, now-retired inspector Gerry Belliveau pointed to what appeared to be the suspicious…

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