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


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paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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