Aleka Esa-Bella Scheyk Gonzales. (CP)

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

A 51-year-old Agassiz man pleaded guilty in connection to a snake venom death of a toddler in North Vancouver five years ago.

Henry Thomas, of Seabird Island, was taking care of a two-year-old girl on May 18, 2014.

When Thomas returned the toddler to her mother’s home in North Vancouver at 5 a.m. the next day, the girl’s mother told police her daughter had died.

• READ MORE: Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

RCMP searched his Agassiz home in July 2015 and found snakes and “related equipment.”

Through further DNA testing, investigators confirmed that the toddler died as a result of snake venom.

Thomas was arrested without incident in January at home and charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

In court in North Vancouver on July 18, Thomas pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service. He is next scheduled in court for sentencing in October. The charge under section 215 of the criminal code comes with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

The little girl’s mother, Venessa Gonzales said she’ll remember her daughter, Aleka Esa-Bella Scheyk Gonzales, as happy and bubbly.

“I called her my little blackbird, because that’s what Aleka means,” Gonzales said.

She had to put all the photos of her daughter away because of the pain they cause her, she said, adding she wasn’t prepared for the attention that the announcement of charges has generated.

Gonzales said Thomas was a friend, but she refused to say more about him. She said it has taken a long time for police to lay charges.

“Nothing was happening and (police) told me two years ago that they closed the file and that no charges would be laid.”

Instead, she said police came to her home recently to tell her he was being charged.

“It’s been a really four and a half, almost five years now.”

– with files from The Canadian Press

• RELATED: VIDEO: Dozens of rattlesnakes removed from under Texas home


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

COVID-19: Changes at Knox Mountain, Canyon Falls, park washrooms in Kelowna

Park washrooms open with extra cleaning on April 1; Knox Mountain Drive, Canyon Falls remain closed

Community newspapers bring people together in time of isolation

Black Press offices have been receiving calls of support, appreciation

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Corona Busters’: Vernon man drives vintage ambulance in appreciation of health-care workers

Rob Newport says he aims to make people smile during the COVID-19 pandemic with Ghostbusters-themed ride

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Most Read