His defence? He was so high on psychedelic mushrooms that he had no control over what he was doing.The precedent-setting case, in Alberta at least, raises questions about who is accountable when someone gets so intoxicated that they lose control and hurt another person. Brown said he consumed more than a dozen drinks and did an unknown quantity of mushrooms that night. He said he doesn't remember the attack.“It is difficult to look at these victims and tell them that the law is not going to hold anyone accountable… not withstanding that we know exactly who committed the offences against them,” wrote Justice Michele Hollins in her acquittal decision.•••Brown’s defence is known in the legal world as “automatism.” It means that a person is carrying out unconscious, involuntary behaviour. When a person who commits a crime has a mental illness, they can argue automatism and be found not criminally responsible. But a person who successfully argues automatism and doesn’t have a mental illness is fully acquitted of their crimes; one high-profile Canadian case saw a man named Kenneth Parks acquitted of murdering his mother-in-law in 1988 because he argued he was sleepwalking.
“It is difficult to look at these victims and tell them that the law is not going to hold anyone accountable.”
He said most research shows that psilocybin calms people down and reduces depression and anxiety; enough of it could create an altered reality, but so could a lack of sleep or stress, he said.“I don’t know where someone draws the line on externalizing the blame on a substance,” Verbora said, noting that a defence like Brown’s seems like a potential slippery slope for using drugs as a scapegoat for criminal behaviour.Dalby, the expert psychologist witness, told VICE Brown doesn’t have “a bad bone in his body.”“This guy is a straightlaced guy, a hockey player,” he said. “Everybody loves him.”
“To allow this kind of defence, it blows my mind.”