Canadian pet store owner charged after python suffocates two boys aged 4 and 6

An exotic pet store owner was charged in a Canadian court on Monday (March 30) after one of his pythons escaped from its enclosure and killed two boys.

Jean-Claude Savoie, 38, was charged with criminal negligence causing death, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

The tragic incident happened on Aug 5, 2013 in the city of Campbellton.

Connor Barthe, aged six, and his brother Noah, aged four, were friends with Savoie's son.

On the night of the incident, the brothers were having a sleepover at Savoie's apartment, which was above the pet store, reported Sky News.

23 reptiles seized

Police said a 45kg African rock python escaped its glass tank through a vent and slithered through a ventilation pipe, reported The Guardian.

But the pipe was unable to withstand the weight of the snake and collapsed in the living room where the boys were sleeping.

The autopsy reports concluded that the boys were asphyxiated.

Following the deaths, the authorities seized 23 reptiles from the shop as it did not have the necessary permits to house them. The store is no longer in operation.

Savoie was arrested in February in Montreal.

His lawyer, Leslie Matchim, said investigators initially told him that he would not be charged, reported CBC News.

Said the lawyer: "As I've been saying for quite some time, we were told no charges were forthcoming. However, given that they have elected to apparently renege on that indication, we've since then been expecting the charge."

Source: Sky News, The Guardian, CBC News