An Orillia man has been convicted of manslaughter for dealing a deadly dose of fentanyl to a Wasaga Beach man who had been released from a drug rehabilitation program that same day.
George Brazier, 54, dropped his head down on the table in front of him when Ontario Superior Court Justice Cary Boswell found him guilty of manslaughter as well as trafficking in both cocaine and fentanyl.
The verdict was delivered Friday following a seven-day trial held last December and January.
Court heard a 31-year-old Wasaga Beach man was found dead by his parents in his bedroom of their home on March 24, 2020 just a day after he was released from a residential drug-addiction program at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, where he had spent the previous six weeks.
A toxicology report found 10 nanograms in his blood when three could be lethal.
The COVID-19 pandemic had just been declared and Ontario and Simcoe County had declared a state of emergency the previous week.
The Wasaga Beach man and a woman, the judge noted, were released “despite the fact that their treatment programs were not completed. He overdosed on fentanyl and died within 12 hours of leaving.”
Brazier, described by police at the time as being from Orillia, was charged in the death following a year-long investigation.
In reviewing the facts, Boswell noted that while the 31-year-old Wasaga Beach man was on his way home, after his release from Waypoint with the woman, he stopped at a beer store. He had, meanwhile, sent Brazier a series of texts in search of “purple Gatorade” and “white” groceries.
An expert witness, one of a dozen Crown witnesses, testified at the trial that the Wasaga Beach man was using coded messages commonly associated with drug transactions.
Boswell said it was clear the man was looking for drugs given his “desperate effort,” noting it was not simply to obtain a sports beverage.
Brazier testified in his own defence, denying that he was a drug dealer. Although he admitted to the texts, he told the court he had no intention to supply Glover with drugs. Instead, Brazier described it as a ruse to collect on a debt.
In addition to the texts, the woman who had been with Glover had testified at the preliminary hearing that she saw the drug transaction and saw Glover smoke a speedball and witnessed the resulting reaction. She was considered to be too ill to testify at trial.
“I have completely rejected Mr. Brazier’s evidence that he was only sandbagging (the Wasaga Beach man),” Boswell concluded.
Brazier’s contention that he was trying to steer the man he described as a friend away from drugs was “patently unbelievable” and that the only rational conclusion was that Brazier was trafficking in drugs, he added.
He also found that the Wasaga Beach man died as a result of ingesting the drugs he obtained from Brazier.
“Fentanyl is widely known to be a particularly dangerous drug. Those who traffic in it traffic in death,” the judge announced prior to announcing that he found Brazier contributed to the death of the Wasaga Beach man.
“There is no quality assurance in street drugs. Far too many Canadians are dying of opioid overdoses," he said.
Brazier, who was one of several people charged with manslaughter in five fatal overdoses in Simcoe County in 2020 and 2019, is scheduled to return to court Oct. 6 for sentencing.