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Digest of the Week | Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Digest of the Week | Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Accused drug dealer convicted of criminal negligence causing death



R. v. Valiquette | 2017 NBQB 27 | New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench



Criminal law --- Offences — Criminal negligence causing death — Elements — Criminal negligence

Accused manufactured drug 25I and provided it to victim and his friend G — Victim and G left apartment and wandered around on night with temperatures between -23 to -27, and died from extreme cold — Accused was charged with criminal negligence causing death — Accused convicted — At time accused gave drugs to victim he either recognized and ran serious risk to victim's life or safety, or gave no thought to serious risk to victim's life or safety and there was marked and substantial departure from standard of care of reasonably prudent person in same circumstances — At end of time victim was in apartment it had to be clear to accused that he was very obviously grossly intoxicated given that victim could not open door to apartment because he could not understand that he needed to do more than turn doorknob in place he had been many times — Accused made no effort to either prevent victim and G from leaving or to call someone to come and take them to their homes, but let them leave and head out into very cold night — Provision of drug not meant for human consumption showed wanton and reckless disregard for victim's life or safety — By his actions accused caused victim's death — Victim's voluntary consumption of drug was not intervening act breaking chain of legal causation between accused giving drug and final factual and legal contributing factors that caused his death — Drug likely had profound effect on victim's judgment — Accused created batch of 25I ten times more potent than intended — Other factors relevant to whether accused showed wanton and reckless disregard for victim's life or safety were that victim was minor, temperature was below -23, and accused had known since at least 2012 25I was dangerous drug — Accused was completely familiar with negative effects of 25I and reasonable person in same circumstances would conclude that giving people 25I represented marked and substantial departure from standard of reasonably prudent person in same circumstances — Failure to foresee risk and take steps to avoid it was marked and substantial departure from standard of care — Accused's conduct caused victim's death as it contributed significantly to his death — But for accused's actions victim would not have died given that drug was powerful hallucigenic and psychedelic drug with ability to profoundly affect victim's judgment and ability to comprehend his surroundings.
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