A B.C. man has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for manslaughter in the overdose death of 14-year-old Carson Crimeni.
The 21-year-old cannot be named because he was a minor at the time Crimeni took the fatal dose of MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, at a Langley skate park in August 2019. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May.
He will serve an 18-month conditional sentence in the community following his release.
During sentencing on Thursday, a judge told a New Westminster courtroom that the young man was 17 years old and a known drug dealer in the community at the time. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Ker said he gave Crimeni an “objectively massive amount” of MDMA, misleading him into believing he was consuming just of fraction of what he actually received.
Although the young drug dealer did not join the crowds of teenagers taking videos of Crimeni’s obvious distress and posting them on social media while he overdosed, Ker said he is ultimately responsible for the boy’s death.
“He is the person who over-served this child on two occasions on that fateful day in 2019,” Ker said.
“He will have to live with this fact for the rest of his life. … This case is truly heartbreaking and tragic, no matter the perspective.”
Ker said the young man gave up drug dealing and using drugs immediately after Crimeni’s death, and has apparently turned his life around since then. His family left Langley following the high-profile incident, and he now works for a landscaping company in another Fraser Valley community.
Crimeni’s father, Aron Crimeni, told reporters outside the court that he was disappointed by the sentence.
“We were hoping for at least two years,” he said. “We were hoping for this to be a precedent-setting case.”
During her reasons for sentence, Ker described Carson as the centre of his family’s universe, and said his death “sucked everyone into a black hole of endless grief.”
Aron Crimeni said that description was painfully accurate.
“What he took away from us can’t be measured,” he said of the former drug dealer.
Grandfather Darrel Crimeni told reporters he was very emotional to hear the sentence handed down, and hoped the case would spark conversations among young people and parents.
“If you see something, say something,” he said. “Don’t be a bystander.”
Dose was over triple what teen wanted
The court heard that Crimeni had wanted to buy three tablets of MDMA on the day he overdosed. He was instead given the equivalent of 10 tablets in two separate purchases, Ker said.
The judge said Crimeni’s behaviour should have made it obvious that something was seriously wrong, but the young people around him chose to shoot video instead of calling for help.
Ker described it as “the 21st-century equivalent of a scene from The Lord of the Flies.”
Another group of young people discovered Crimeni later that day in a ditch and called for help, the court heard. He was taken to hospital, where his temperature spiked to 42 C before he died.
Darrel Crimeni has said his grandson, who was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and was incredibly friendly to everyone, had been bullied since elementary school.
Victim impact statements from Carson Crimeni’s family described him as a “goofster and a clown” who loved to make people laugh. They also said he was desperate to fit in, which drove his decision to purchase drugs on the day of his death.
The court also heard the young man who sold Crimeni the MDMA had been the victim of a severe beating in 2017, leaving him with an open head wound and a concussion.
His family has said his behaviour noticeably changed after that, leaving him prone to outbursts of anger and extreme anxiety. He dropped out of high school and began deal drugs and self-medicating with psychedelics and cannabis.
“This is not an excuse but certainly provides considerable context,” Ker said.
The young man has written an apology letter to Crimeni’s family, the court heard, and Ker said his guilty plea implies he has insight and remorse for what he did.
However, the judge also noted that two psychiatrists who interviewed him provided reports that were “not what I would characterize as glowing.” One noted that during their interview, the young man had denied giving Crimeni more MDMA than he wanted.
Both defence and Crown had agreed that the total sentence should add up to three years, the maximum sentence for youths convicted of manslaughter. However, they disagreed on the length of the jail term, with defence calling for 12 to 18 months and prosecutors asking for two years.
In the end, Ker sided with defence, saying she was concerned that spending two years in an adult jail would have negative consequences for the young man’s chances at rehabilitation.