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Report released regarding death of 15-year-old male in Sydney Mines


The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) today released its report regarding an investigation into the death of a 15-year-old male in Sydney Mines. His body was found by police on the ocean shore near Peck St. in Sydney Mines on January 1, 2017. He had been reported missing by his family after he failed to return home after a gathering of young persons on the evening of December 28, 2016.

The Cape Breton Regional Police had been called to the gathering, which was at a residence on Peck St., shortly after 9:30 p.m. on December 28, in response to the complaint of the discharge of bear spray by a male at persons inside the home. The 15-year-old male was hit by some of the bear spray, and he and his friends exited the home at the time. They had been drinking and were underage. As they stood in the yard the police drove down the street. The boys ran off to avoid detection. Three ran and hid in trees behind the house, while the 15-year-old ran toward neighbouring houses approximately 160 metres away. When police saw a male run off, they gave chase believing he may be the suspect. However, they were unable to find him and returned to the house about four minutes later. 

The house is not far from the shoreline, which is jagged and consists of a high cliff. The investigation concluded that the 15-year-old, who was not familiar with the area, fell from the cliff into the water and drowned. The Medical Examiner confirmed his death was caused by drowning, and he had no injuries other than those caused after his death while in the water.

All the evidence confirmed there was no contact between the police and the young male. The police were justified in attempting to catch up to the male as it was reasonable to believe he could have been responsible for the discharge of the bear spray or had information relevant to the investigation.

The young male’s death was a tragic accident.

In these circumstances, there are no grounds to consider any charges against the police officers.

A complete copy of the report is available at

SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian director Ron MacDonald, who is solely responsible for decisions respecting the laying of any charge.


Media Contact:

Ron MacDonald, QC


902-424-8400 (o)

902-718-9707 (m)