New Brunswick

Richard Valiquette guilty of criminal negligence in drug-related death of Gavin Adams

A Saint John judge has found Richard Valiquette guilty of criminal negligence causing the drug-related death of 17-year-old Gavin Adams.

Body of 17-year-old Saint John student was discovered partly covered in snow in December 2013

Gavin Adams, 17, of Saint John, aspired to study at McGill University and become a psychologist. (Submitted)

A judge has found Richard Valiquette guilty of criminal negligence causing the drug-related death of 17-year-old Gavin Adams more than three years ago in Saint John.

Justice Fred Ferguson delivered his 164-page verdict Monday morning in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench.

Valiquette, 28, was accused of giving Gavin a substance unfit for human consumption, with reckless disregard for the Saint John High School student's safety.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Gavin's body was discovered partly buried in snow in a Saint John north end parking lot on Dec. 16, 2013 — two days after witnesses placed the teen in the apartment of Valiquette, who pleaded guilty at a trial in October to making psychedelic drugs.

"Given that temperatures were hovering at -25 Celsius with the wind chill that evening, when one considers the impact of the drug given to [Gavin and his friend] by Mr. Valiquette there is no other conclusion that can be reached than that Mr. Valiquette's actions, in giving the drug 25I to Gavin Adams, contributed significantly to his death," Ferguson said.

"'But for the actions of Mr. Valiquette, it is impossible to conclude Gavin Adams's physical health and life would have been in any jeopardy that evening."

Valiquette was completely aware of the negative effects of what he was making and was aware of the state Gavin was in when he went out into the frigid night, Ferguson said.

Richard Valiquette has been found guilty in Saint John of criminal negligence causing the death of Gavin Adams, 17. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)
Valiquette did not speak in court.

He will remain at liberty until the day of his sentencing.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 12 at 9:30 a.m., when victim impact statements are expected to be submitted.

A pre-sentence report has already been prepared. The judge took a recess so he could read it.

Valiquette's crying girlfriend wrapped her arms around him during the recess.

'Important step'

David Adams speaks outside court

5 years ago
David Adams, father of Gavin Adams, speaks following the guilty verdict for Richard Valiquette, who concocted the drugs that led to Gavin's death. 1:20
Outside the court, Gavin's father, David Adams, told reporters he believes the judgment will help children get through difficult times in their lives more safely.

"It's not the first step — we've gone through a lot of steps — but it is a step, an important step, to find people responsible for these crimes and we think it will go a long way to help," said Adams.

"We're in an era now where the manufacturing of chemicals is far more advanced than it ever had been. The experimental drugs that teenagers do in their teens used to be marijuana or alcohol, maybe LSD.

"Unfortunately now, substances that are made in laboratories are replacing these substances because they're a lot cheaper, in many cases they're way more potent but — and the big but is — they are lethal and they're killing kids all the time."

At the trial, Gavin's friend, 19-year-old Adrian Goguen, testified they'd gone together to Valiquette's the night of Dec. 14, 2013, and each purchased and ingested four tabs of 25i NBOME, a highly potent LSD-like drug.

Goguen said they both got so high, they could barely speak. He ended up in the emergency room that night. Gavin, after getting separated from Goguen, ultimately perished alone. His blood sample tested positive for 25i.

Valiquette was initially charged with manslaughter, but that charge was later withdrawn.

At his trial on Oct. 3, 2016, Valiquette pleaded guilty to producing the drug DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), a hallucinogenic drug.

Charges of drug trafficking and possession of a drug for the purpose of trafficking were later dropped, but Valiquette is to be sentenced on the charge of producing DMT on April 12 as well.

With files from Rachel Cave