27 May Stratford man charged with manslaughter in overdose death
A Stratford man is charged with manslaughter in a fatal suspected fentanyl overdose five months ago, the latest in a string of charges that underline the lethal fallout of the opioid epidemic sweeping the region and the growing willingness by police and the Crown to target traffickers.
Terry Collins, 54, was arrested Friday and charged with manslaughter and trafficking in a controlled substance, Stratford police said. He was held in custody for a bail hearing and is scheduled to return to court Monday.
The charges stem from the overdose death of a 48-year-old Stratford man on Dec. 21, 2018. The man and a 33-year-old woman obtained fentanyl, commonly referred to by the street name “down,” police said.
After consuming the drugs, the man and woman lost consciousness. The woman was revived by naloxone, but the man died, police said.
After consulting with the Crown Attorney’s office, police decided to lay a manslaughter charge because the person who trafficked the drug “ought to have known that trafficking in fentanyl is a dangerous act likely to cause death to a person,” Stratford police said in a media release.
The case adds to a growing list of prosecutions in Southwestern Ontario in which dealers have been charged as the region deals with a wave of fatal overdoses, many linked to fentanyl and carfentanil.
London police warned last week that carfentantil — used to tranquilize large animals such as elephants — was found in 10 drug samples seized between March 20 and April 8, a period in which five people died from suspected drug overdoses.
One hundred times more powerful than morphine, a synthetic version of fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs that are sold to users who aren’t aware of its presence.
The deadly consequences of that ignorance played out earlier this month in a Sarnia courtroom, where a 59-year-old woman pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death and trafficking fentanyl.
Karen Edel-Savage sold crack cocaine to a man and woman in August 2017. The man died within hours because fentanyl had been cut into the half gram of cocaine. Edel-Savage, who wasn’t aware there was fentanyl in the drugs she sold to the man and woman, will be sentenced Sept. 12.
In a similar case in Oxford County, a man was sentenced in April 2018 to 2 1/2 years for selling a patch of fentanyl to a 32-year-old Norwich woman who died in January 2016 of a fatal overdose in the bathroom of the Norwich restaurant where she worked.
William Knapp’s conviction on charges of criminal negligence causing death and drug trafficking was one of the first in Ontario in which a fentanyl dealer was convicted of the charge.
In April, a man and a woman from Simcoe were charged with manslaughter in the overdose death of a Port Dover woman.
Also in Norfolk County, a 39-year-old Simcoe man was recently handed a 10-year sentence – believed to be that region’s harshest related to drug offences – after pleading guilty to three sets of charges of possession and trafficking in large quantities of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and hydromorphone in both Simcoe and Woodstock.
“It sends a message that if you get caught, you’re going to go to jail for a long time,” federal Crown attorney Jamie Pereira said. “Protection of the public in this case is very important.”
A community-impact report prepared by the OPP and presented by the Crown in the case indicates there were five fentanyl-related deaths in Haldimand-Norfolk and seven in Oxford County in 2017, the last year for which statistics were available.
“That’s a very alarming number for these relatively small communities,” Pereira said. “We’re seeing one person dying every month due to fentanyl.”
Stratford Beacon Herald