Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Intoxication relevant in arson

R. v. Tatton, 2014 ONCA 273:

[42]       If a fire results after a person does something while intoxicated, it would not necessarily follow that the person intended to set fire to their home, or foresaw that a fire would result. In my view, the defence of accident should not be constrained, or effectively foreclosed, by a rule that prevents the trier of fact from considering evidence of consumption of alcohol. As a practical matter, it would be unreasonable and unnecessarily complicated to ask a jury to compartmentalize their thinking by excluding from their consideration the effects of alcohol and answer a hypothetical question as to what the accused’s intent or mental state would have been but for the consumption of alcohol.

[43]       In some cases, excessive consumption of alcohol may support a finding of recklessness. As Dickson J. observed in Leary, at p. 46, “[i]n the circumstances of a particular case, the ingestion of alcohol may be sufficiently connected to the consequences as to constitute recklessness in a legal sense with respect to the occurrence of the prohibited act.” Surely voluntary intoxication would be relevant to those circumstances.

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