A young man in the throes of dying from a drug overdose thrashed about in a shower in distress while the person who gave him the drug filmed his demise and sent it to friends.
Jared Wayne Croft’s “inhumane” lack of action in failing to get help for the young man has ended in a jail sentence while the man’s family is grieving the devastating loss of their son and brother.
The 20-year-old Christchurch victim, who has permanent name suppression, was encouraged to take a rock of MDMA, a large amount of the Class B drug also known as Ecstasy, all at once by Croft and associate Janna Mereama Clarke last September.
Now Croft and Clarke, both 34, have been sentenced in the Christchurch District Court for their part in encouraging the man to consume the lethal dose of the popular party drug.
Inexplicable inaction that led to death
This week, the court heard the young man arrived at Croft’s home early on September 4 last year.
Croft and Clarke were sitting in the kitchen when Croft filmed himself with a rock of MDMA, about 10mm in diameter.
He gave the rock to the man and said he could have it for free if he took it all at once.
The man asked if he should split it into smaller amounts but Clarke told him to take it all.
“Drop it right in your mouth,” she encouraged him.
Croft recorded the drug supply and sent it to contacts on Snapchat.
Croft made several videos of the man as his condition deteriorated and sent the footage to people on Snapchat.
One person responded by telling Croft the man’s heart rate would be “through the roof”. Croft agreed.
Another said the man was “in a bad way”.
A friend messaged Croft that he needed to help the man and suggested giving him more drugs to bring down the high. Croft asked the friend to come to his house and help.
In the meantime, Croft and Clarke put the man in the shower for two hours, where he thrashed around under the water so violently that he smashed a hole in the floor of the shower and cut his foot.
All the while, Croft continued to take videos and send them to others.
When Croft’s friend arrived, the man was still in the shower and the trio carried him to a bed and left him alone. The friend told Croft to call an ambulance and left.
Croft and Clarke checked on the man and found his skin had turned grey and cold. They were told by emergency services to begin CPR.
At 11.33am, paramedics arrived and continued CPR but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination later determined his cause of death was mixed drug toxicity, from MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol.
The level of MDMA present in his blood was 10 times the level of that consumed for recreational use.
When police arrived at Croft’s house soon afterwards, he and Clarke agreed to hide a container holding 21 grams of Ecstasy.
Croft took it to the shed and moved $18,000 in cash from his house into a bag before leaving.
Police searched Croft’s property and found two containers of MDMA, 0.01 grams of methamphetamine, a rolled-up $5 note discarded in a bin and various point bags.
Later that day, Croft exchanged messages on Snapchat with the friend who had gone to his house, telling him the man had died.
“I didn’t say to pigs you were ever here OK,” Croft told him.
“OK. I’ll go with whatever you say,” the friend replied.
On September 7, Croft and Clarke were travelling to Rangiora when they were stopped by police and arrested.
Their cellphones were seized and $18,000 was found in the car. Croft refused to provide the passcode to his phone.
‘My wee man trusted you’
During the sentencing, the man’s father said the death of his son was the worst day of his life and it played on repeat in his mind.
The fact that Croft and Clarke did not get help when the man was clearly distressed was “inhumane”.
“My wee man trusted you both ... To learn that you are a father and did this to a young man is beyond horrifying,” he said to Croft.
“[My son] was in a great deal of stress and you videoed it. That rips me apart.”
The father had to explain to his son’s siblings, who are 10 and 5, that their big brother was not coming home.
He said his son was one of his best friends and had the unique ability to light up a room.
“We have lost a fantastic person.”
The man’s mother said her boy was a month shy of turning 21, full of life and loved by everyone who knew him.
“The day [he] died, I died,” she sobbed. “I live on but it’s not living, it’s existing in complete misery ... I am totally unhappy.”
She said the family was now robbed of making new memories with the young man.
“I am unable to comprehend how a person can watch someone take a drug they know could harm or kill them and do nothing to help them when they become distressed.
“I just wish someone would have been able to stop you earlier and save [my son’s] life.”
In a letter of apology to the grieving family, Croft said he was “immensely sorry” for the pain and trauma he had caused.
“I will carry the weight of this every day for the rest of my life and I know you will too.”
Drug distress ‘completely obvious’ - judge
Crown prosecutor Aaron Harvey pushed for Croft to be jailed, stating it was clear the victim needed an ambulance earlier.
Croft’s lawyer, Kerry Cook, said Croft was not aware of the seriousness of the situation, was genuinely remorseful and had made significant efforts toward rehabilitation.
He argued that the friend who turned up to help, and who was the only sober person there at the time, expressed the view that the man may have been dehydrated and would “come right”.
However, Judge Raoul Neave rejected this, stating it was “blindingly obvious” the man was in “significant distress”, and nothing was done until the friend advised calling an ambulance.
Judge Neave struggled to understand why no help was sought for the man immediately.
“On any view of it, the distress that the young man was suffering had to be completely and utterly obvious to anyone and it shouldn’t have taken the words of someone else that you needed to phone an ambulance.
“That needed to be done immediately, rather than film it on a cellphone.”
Clarke’s lawyer, Elizabeth Bulger, said her client, who admitted being a party to supplying MDMA and perverting the course of justice, felt “guilt and shame” for her part in the offending and had written an apology letter to the man’s family.
Croft earlier pleaded guilty to supplying MDMA, possession of a Class B controlled drug for supply, perverting the course of justice and failing to carry out obligations in relation to a computer search.
He was jailed for 28 months. Clarke was sentenced to 12 months of home detention.
Where to get help:
• 0800 METH HELP (0800 6384 4357)
• Alcohol Drug Helpline (Phone 0800 787 797 or text 8681)
• They also have a Māori line on 0800 787 798 and a Pasifika line on 0800 787 799
- By Emily Moorhouse and Sam Sherwood
- Open Justice multimedia journalists, Christchurch