Canada is veering even further off the rails of sanity and personal responsibility, with its Supreme Court finding that extreme, self-inflicted intoxication actually can exonerate a defendant.
Canada’s Supreme Court ruled on May 13 that defendants accused of violent crimes can successfully use intoxication on alcohol or other drugs as a defense, reports Dailymail.com. The court found that a law passed by Parliament in 1995 that prohibits the defense was unconstitutional and is in violation of the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Judges ruled on three cases that day – with two ending in acquittals and one set for a retrial – over crimes committed while drunk.
The rulings strike down a federal law strongly backed by women’s advocacy groups.
Justice Nicholas Kasirer said: “Its impact on the principles of fundamental justice is disproportionate to its overarching public benefits. It should therefore be declared unconstitutional and of no force or effect.”
Matthew Brown from Calgary faced charges of breaking and entering and aggravated assault after a 2018 attack on Janet Hamnett that left her with broken hands. He had taken about 2.5 grams of psilocybin mushrooms and drunk nearly a pint of vodka as well as a few beers before the incident, and he attacked the professor with a broom handle after breaking into her home naked.
In the second case, 19-year-old student Thomas Chan took mushrooms in 2015 before stabbing his father to death in Peterborough, Ontario.
Matthew Gourlay, representing Chan, said: “Our client, Thomas Chan, did something horrible when he was not in his right mind — but not every tragedy has a villain. The Crown in our case has never been able to articulate why Thomas Chan, in particular, needs to be convicted and punished as a criminal.” The judge ordered a new trial.
In 2013 David Sullivan, from Whitby, Ontario, tried to kill himself by taking Wellbutrin but stabbed his mother, who later died of an unrelated heart attack. Sullivan’s attorney, previously said he could not have foreseen the harm his suicide attempt would cause. His acquittal was upheld by the court.
Four out of five victims of intimate partner violence were women and they were five times more likely to experience sexual assault in 2019, government data show. In 1994, the court ruled in favor of an extreme intoxication defense by a suspect accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a wheelchair while he was drunk.