Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2014
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly
Page: A8


Lawyer found not guilty in heroin overdose of friend

An out-of-work Hamilton lawyer who supplied her friend with the heroin
that ultimately killed him is not responsible for his death, an
Ontario court has ruled.

Justice Bernd Zabel found Sarah Jackson, 36, not guilty of
manslaughter in the January 2013 overdose death of 36-year-old Ed
Cieslik. He made the ruling Friday morning, more than seven weeks
after the trial wrapped up.

Zabel found the victim was "persistent in his quest to take heroin,"
and "wore down" Jackson to supply him with the drug.

Cieslik was described as a recreational drug user with diabetes and
coronary disease, who was eager to try the drug despite repeated
warnings from friends.

On the night of Jan. 19, 2013, Jackson supplied her friend with the
drug, splitting it into three 1/6 gram doses. Cieslik botched the
first attempt at injecting the drug; then Jackson helped him,
injecting the second dose; and several hours later Cieslik injected
the final - f atal - dose himself, Zabel concluded.

"Unlawful manslaughter cannot be found in supplying the heroin alone,"
he noted.

During that f ateful evening inside Jackson's LeClaire Street bungalow
she "did not show wanton disregard for the safety of the deceased," he

Court heard the pair sat up talking for an hour after the victim took
his second dose of heroin and she later checked on him sleeping. Hours
later she found him cold and unresponsive, and immediately called 911.
Jackson did not believe the amount of heroin taken could be fatal.

Over roughly an hour Zabel summarized the testimony of witnesses and
shared his own finding, his eventual verdict becoming clearer and
clearer. Listening, Jackson sat quietly in the prisoner 's box, at
times looking around at friends and family of her and Cieslik seated
in the courtroom.

Outside of court her lawyer, Dean Paquette, said he was "thrilled,
very pleased" with the decision, adding that his client seemed calm as
the not-guilty verdict became clear. Jackson has been in custody for
over a year. She was released Friday afternoon and was expected to
return to her mother's home.

Paquette said the case was "very tragic and difficult" for all

Cieslik and Jackson had been friends from their hometown of Oshawa,
before reconnecting in Hamilton. Jackson, who previously worked as a
personal injury lawyer, was trying to kick a drug habit and was on a
methadone program at the time of her friend's death. Cieslik was an
employee of National Steel Car living in an Ottawa Street apartment.

During the course of five interviews with police after Cieslik's
death, Jackson's story changed. At first she claimed Cieslik injected
the heroin himself, but later admitted she administered the first
dose. But despite her initial deception, Zabel said he believed the
rest of her version of events.

Summarizing pathologist testimony, Zabel said the autopsy only
revealed one clear injection site, but given the small size of the
needles, a second injection site was possible.

Assistant Crown attorney Nancy Flynn declined comment to The Hamilton
Spectator, saying that she needed time to review the ruling before the
prosecution would decide whether it will appeal.

During the trial she argued that Jackson's actions of getting and
injecting the heroin caused Cieslik's death and that she knew the risk
of overdose.
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