Richard Valiquette has been sentenced to three years in prison for criminal negligence in the 2013 drug-related death of Saint John teen Gavin Adams, whose body was discovered partly buried by snow two days after he disappeared.
Valiquette, 28, was also sentenced Tuesday in Saint John Court of Queen's Bench to one year, to be served concurrently, for producing DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), a hallucinogenic drug.
- Crown seeks minimum 3-year prison term for drug dealer convicted in teen's death
- Richard Valiquette guilty of criminal negligence in drug-related death of Gavin Adams
He was convicted in February on the criminal negligence charge for giving Gavin, 17, another synthetic highly potent LSD-like drug called 25i NBOMe — a substance unfit for human consumption, with reckless disregard for the Saint John High School student's safety.
Gavin's frozen body was found in a north end parking lot on Dec. 16, 2013, two days after witnesses placed him in Valiquette's apartment, the trial heard.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The Crown had recommended a minimum three-year prison term during a sentencing hearing in April, when 13 victim impact statements were submitted.
Justice Frederick Ferguson said Tuesday Valiquette's crime pre-dated the epidemic of synthetic drugs now causing deaths in Canada.
If that trend sweeps into New Brunswick, the courts may need to be more strict in handing out exemplary punishments, said Ferguson.
But he believes three years in prison for Valiquette denounces the crime and serves as a deterrent to people who would otherwise make synthetic drugs.
It also sends a message about the importance of protecting youth from experimental hallucinogens, Ferguson said.
During the trial, Gavin's friend, 19-year-old Adrian Goguen, testified they went together to Valiquette's apartment the night of Dec. 14, 2013, and each purchased and ingested four tabs of 25i.
They both got so high, they could barely speak and wound up getting separated, Goguen said. He ended up in the emergency room that night, he said.
Gavin's blood sample tested positive for 25i after his body was found.
'No sentence will help heal the wounds those many people who loved Gavin Adams feel today or will ever compensate for that loss now or in the future.' - Frederick Ferguson, Court of Queen's Bench justice
"It is worth noting that there are many who believe that giving dangerous drugs to others is not worthy of criminal sanction because those who participate in the consumption of drugs in that underworld do so at their own risk," Ferguson wrote in his 54-page decision.
"That is a fallacious theory of the moral blameworthiness standard."
"When considering the degree of responsibility for the death of Gavin Adams that Mr. Valiquette bears, one might resort to the rhetorical question: Would Gavin Adams have died 'probably of cold exposure' in the -27 degree Celsius temperatures had Mr. Valiquette not given him the 25i that so thoroughly intoxicated him and his friend Adrian Goguen? The answer to the question is a simple 'no.'"
The judge noted "no sentence will help heal the wounds those many people who loved Gavin Adams feel today or will ever compensate for that loss now or in the future.
"More than three years later, it is clear that his immediate family is still struggling to deal with having lost a son and a brother," he wrote.
Outcome Adams family hoped for
Outside court, Gavin's father, David Adams, said the family was pleased with the sentence.
"I think the sentence itself, [Valiquette] going to a federal penitentiary for his actions, is what we hoped would be the outcome," said Adams.
"This is what was required in my mind, holding people responsible, whereas I think Mr. Valiquette didn't feel he had any [responsibility] in Gavin's death at all going into this process. Now he knows otherwise.
"And I hope that message is also communicated to others who may think that they are not held responsible for putting peoples' lives in danger in this circumstance."
Adams also cautioned parents that the drugs of today are far more dangerous than the drugs of their youth.
"It's different because the substances that we as teenagers dealt with — alcohol, maybe some lousy marijuana, maybe some acid of some sort — these substances are now being exchanged for synthesized substances," he said.
"So LSD now is quite often 25i, which is the substance Gavin perished from. Marijuana is being cut with synthesized substances. Also, it could be in a cookie that you're given in a party.
"And I think parents need to know that their experience is nothing like their children's experience and need to talk with their children."
Valiquette, who had pleaded guilty in October to making psychedelic drugs, told the court during the sentencing hearing in April that he felt "terrible about what happened."
He described Gavin as "a really good friend." He felt "very close" to him, a "kinship," a "like-mindedness," he had said.
Valiquette, who had remained free pending sentencing, was also ordered Tuesday to provide a DNA sample for the national databank, as several supporters looked on.
He is also prohibited from possessing any weapons for 10 years following his release, and was ordered to pay a $200 victim fine surcharge.