NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The behaviour of youth who filmed and shared videos of a boy dying from a drug overdose was like a scene from a modern-day "Lord of the Flies," a British Columbia Supreme Court judge said before sentencing the dealer in the case.
Justice Kathleen Ker handed the man who sold the "exceedingly high" dosage to 14-year-old Carson Crimeni a three-year sentence, with half to be spent in jail and the remaining 18 months to be served under conditional supervision in his Fraser Valley community.
The man who is now 21 years old cannot be named because he was a youth at the time of the crime on Aug. 7, 2019. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter last May.
Ker said other youth saw Crimeni in "obvious distress" that day in a park in Langley, B.C., and instead of helping him, they took videos and shared them on social media.
"Carson was my world," the boy's grandfather told reporters outside the New Westminster courthouse following the sentencing on Thursday.
"They killed him for entertainment," Darrel Crimeni said, as his voice caught with emotion.
Ker told the court that on the day Crimeni died, he had asked a friend to get in touch with the man in order to buy MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
She said the accused "over-served" Crimeni twice that afternoon, then did nothing to intervene when the boy's distress became obvious.
Ker said Crimeni thought he was buying a total of about three capsules, each containing about 0.1 grams of the drug, but the man sold him 10 capsules.
Crimeni consumed all of it over the course of that same afternoon, she said.
"Although there were initially a number of young people in the skate park area who witnessed how Carson was reacting to the exceedingly high dosage of MDMA, no one intervened to assist or to call 911," the judge said.
"In what some might describe as behaviour that is the 21st-century equivalent of a scene from the 'Lord of the Flies,' several of the young people who saw Carson in his extremely intoxicated state, instead of assisting, took videos," she said.
Outside the courthouse, the boy's father, Aron Crimeni, said he hopes the case holds a lesson for those youth and others in the future.
"You know, not to ignore somebody who’s in trouble like that, serious trouble.”
A different group of young people later called 911 after finding Crimeni in a ditch, Ker said. He was taken to hospital, where his temperature spiked to 42 degrees Celsius before he went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead, she said.
While the man who sold Crimeni the MDMA may not have intended to kill the boy, Ker said his conduct was "criminally reckless."
She said the case is "truly heartbreaking and tragic."
The judge described Crimeni as the centre of his family's universe, saying the "extinguishment of this bright star … has sucked everyone Carson knew into a black hole of unending grief, a giant chasm of emptiness and sadness."
Aron Crimeni said that description was accurate.
"What he took away from us can't be measured," he said of the drug dealer.
"It's the most devastating thing that a human being could ever go through."
Before delivering the sentence, Ker said the man who sold the drugs had been the victim of a "vicious" beating that left him unconscious when he was 15 years old.
The youth began engaging in a "dangerous self-medication regime," consuming a variety of drugs as he tried to cope with the trauma of the attack, she said.
"This is not an excuse but certainly provides considerably context," Ker said.
The man stopped dealing and consuming drugs after Crimeni's death, she said.
The aggravating factors in the man's sentencing included misleading Crimeni by selling him an "objectively massive amount" of MDMA, then doing nothing to intervene despite being aware of the boy's distress, the judge said.
The mitigating factors included the man's family support, lack of criminal history, and his guilty plea, which Ker said implied insight, remorse, and acceptance of responsibility. He had also expressed remorse in a letter read to the court, she said.
Aron Crimeni said he's "glad" the man who sold the drugs to his son is going to jail, but the family had hoped he would serve at least two years behind bars.
Ker said the conditions of the man's eventual release are to be set at a later date.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.
Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press