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Extreme intoxication: Supreme Court reinstates man’s acquittal

OTTAWA — Canada’s highest court has restored the acquittal of a Calgary man who consumed alcohol and magic mushrooms before violently assaulting a woman while extremely intoxicated.

The Supreme Court on Friday released judgments in three cases that examined whether people who committed certain violent crimes could use the defense of automatism⁠ — a state of extreme intoxication to the point where they lost control of themselves — same.

Judge Nicholas Kasirer, who wrote the unanimous decision, said the section of the Criminal Code that prohibited the use of this defense for certain acts was unconstitutional.

Justice Kasirer writes that the use of the Criminal Code section violates the Charter because a person’s decision to become drunk does not mean that he intended to commit a violent offence.

The Charter was also violated because an accused could be convicted without the prosecution having to prove that the person wished or intended to do the act.

The court also says parliament may want to enact legislation to hold extremely drunk people accountable for violent crimes, to protect vulnerable victims, especially women and children.


This article was produced with the financial support of the Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.