David Leon Stefanczuk charged with manslaughter after opioid death in Sudbury
Death happened on Feb. 1
In a first for the Greater Sudbury Police Service, a manslaughter charge has been laid after a death caused by an opioid overdose.
David Leon Stefanczuk, 39, has been charged with manslaughter and trafficking. He's scheduled to appear in court on June 6. Police say it's in connection with an overdose death on Feb. 1, 2019.
"Not long after the tragic death of the community member … we determined the source of the poisonous drug that lead to the death," Staff Sergeant Rick Waugh with police said.
Waugh says when you look at the definition of manslaughter, most deaths caused by overdoses would fit that description.
"If you commit a criminal act that causes the death of another person and in this case, selling an illicit substance like an opioid where you know that substance may cause the death of another person, that's the definition of manslaughter," he said.
"People ought to know that these illicit poisonous substances are not by a pharmaceutical company. These are mixed by criminals and organized crime members."
However, he says even with that definition, laying a charge for an overdose isn't always easy.
"Proving the direct connection between the seller and the person who consumes and dies is always a challenge," Waugh said.
"In this case, we believe we've established that threshold and have the reasonable probable grounds to lay the charge. The next test will be whether we garner a conviction with the evidence we've gathered."
Police have not released any information about the man who overdosed in this case.
Waugh says he's spoken to the mother of the man who overdosed, as well as his girlfriend.
"In the case of the mother, obviously tragic loss of her son … but also a sense of some level of sympathy as well for the situation and probably for the offender," he said.
"I can't speak for her, but in our conversations she's definitely aware of what's happening not just here in Sudbury but in other communities across the province, across Canada. There are deaths that should not be occurring."
'People need to talk'
Waugh admits these investigations are not easy for police.
"The drug subculture is one where people generally don't want to talk to police. So we don't get a whole lot of cooperation," he said.
"It's different now. People are dying at a level that we haven't seen before. People need to talk. That culture change needs to happen."
Earlier this week, Ontario Provincial Police announced two people in Timmins were charged in connection with an opioid overdose death in Latchford.
A 21-year-old Timmins man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with that death. Both he and a 30-year-old Timmins man face trafficking charges as well.
With files from Kate Rutherford