Ontario man guilty of manslaughter for supplying victim with fentanyl
The 17-year-old woman died of an overdose in 2021 following a drug transaction with the trafficker.
The judgment of the Ontario Court of Justice confirms that any trafficker of fentanyl can be guilty of manslaughter if the victim dies of an overdose.
Derrick Adams was convicted of manslaughter in connection with the 2021 overdose death of a teenage girl at Simcoe Hospital near Port Dover in southern Ontario. In a recent judgment, an Ontario Court of Justice judge ruled that any reasonable person should have known of the risks involved in a fentanyl transaction.
Derrick Adams was charged with fentanyl trafficking, manslaughter and criminal negligence causing the death of young Rachel Cook on August 27, 2021 in Simcoe.
The 41-year-old was found guilty of all three charges following his trial earlier this fall.
The central issue of the trial was: Is the act of trafficking fentanyl sufficient to support a verdict of guilty on a charge of manslaughter?
That day, Rachel had returned home after meeting the accused near a clearance store. She had smoked a joint in the presence of Tanya Gettinby and Glen Bertling, the couple she was staying with.
Tanya Gettinby was de factothe legal guardian of the teenager she had taken in to put her on the right track about her narcotics consumption.
Rachel then went up to her room telling them she was going to take a nap. At around 8 p.m., Tanya entered the bedroom after knocking on the door, with no response from Rachel who she found unresponsive on the bed.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Norfolk County had conducted the criminal investigation.< /p>
Tanya attempted to perform resuscitation procedures while Glen called 911. Paramedics were also unable to resuscitate her.
At Norfolk General Hospital, staff had managed to resuscitate Rachel, but the teenager had no brain activity. It was finally decided to disconnect her from her artificial respirator.
Jurisprudence holds that drug trafficking includes any sharing of narcotics between people, even for social purposes, regardless of whether the person offering the drug receives financial compensation.
In the case of Derrick Adams, the Crown therefore did not have to prove that Rachel had paid the defendant in exchange for fentanyl.
The Crown's evidence in this case were entirely circumstantial, as there is no evidence that Derrick Adams provided the fentanyl to Rachel on the day the teenager died.
The Supreme Court of Canada has established the assessment criteria that the Crown must meet when a case is based entirely on circumstantial evidence.
In her verdict dated November 10, Justice Aubrey Hilliard of the Ontario Court of Justice rules that the Crown has succeeded in proving its hypothesis beyond a reasonable doubt, thanks including text messages between the accused and the victim.
A detective had explained on the witness stand the language that traffickers use in their electronic conversations to avoid being suspected of anything.
For example, the letter p means 0.1 grams of drug and half p means 0.05 grams.
“Shady 8” is a form of fentanyl, a strong opioid, which comes in the form of white or green pills or tablets.
The telephone conversation between the accused and the victim shows that they met around 5:00 p.m. on the day of the fatal overdose. A surveillance camera further shows that Rachel was indeed out shopping with Tanya.
Tanya had claimed during the trial that she knew Rachel would leave her to go home alone after their shopping spree.
Judge finds Derrick Adams supplied the drugs to Rachel around 5:20 p.m. when they met, as evidenced by their email conversation.
The defense refuted this argument, saying the text messages rather imply that his client told Rachel that he was unable to get her drugs that day.
The judge nevertheless asserts that this position does not make any sense, since Rachel told Derrick in her messages that she was going to give him $3 to make Tanya believe that her meeting with the defendant was for purpose of giving her money that she owed him.
However, it was only a pretext to explain the fact that Rachel had to be away for 10 minutes after the shopping spree.
If Rachel and Derrick hadn't met to trade drugs, Rachel wouldn't have had to lie to Tanya about her absence, the magistrate writes.
Derrick Adams' defense claimed there was no evidence that his client met the victim the night of his overdose death or provided him with fentanyl in the event he encountered her.
The judge rejects the idea that Rachel could have met someone other than Derrick to obtain the drugs before returning home. This is just a pure guess that is not supported by any evidence, she says.
Analysis of Rachel's cell phone messages shows that the teenager was looking for drugs in the days leading up to her death and did not seek any Derrick Adams a drug other than fentanyl.
The police search warrant also found fentanyl residue in aluminum foil in the bedroom. Rachel after her death.
Accordingly, I accept the reasonable conclusion that Derrick knew the drug he gave Rachel was fentanyl, explains the magistrate, who clarifies that fentanyl is an illegal drug in Canada.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter in the country is life in prison and there is a minimum of 4 to 7 years in prison only in cases where the death was caused by a firearm.
The judge points out that an individual is guilty of manslaughter when he commits an illegal act punishable by law, such as trafficking in illicit substances. It is indisputable that fentanyl trafficking is a crime in Canada, she continues.
She had rejected the defense's idea that Rachel could have obtained fentanyl in the days leading up to his death thanks to someone other than his client.
However, the detective explained that fentanyl users consume the drug immediately after purchasing it.
The judge added that Rachel had just left her job at Tim Hortons and that #x27;it's hard to believe she could afford to buy large amounts of fentanyl for long-term use.
The autopsy further revealed that Rachel had indeed succumbed to an overdose of fentanyl. If Derrick had given her something other than fentanyl, Rachel would still be alive, she says.
A naloxone kit , which counteracts the effects of fentanyl in the event of an overdose.
The magistrate points out that the Crown has also proved beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused on the charge of criminal negligence causing death.
The judge points out that the defendant had even asked Rachel in their electronic conversations to call him after his consumption that evening.
A reasonable person should have foreseen the risks of providing fentanyl to someone intending to use such a drug, she concludes.
Derrick Adams is scheduled to appear again in Simcoe Court on November 29 to hear the date of his sentencing hearing.