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Lecture

Lecture 5


Department
Woodsworth College Courses
Course Code
WDW101Y1
Professor
David Davies

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WDW225 October 21, 2010 Actus Reus Part Three Lecture 5
Automatism
R. v. Parks
Facts: drove 23km to his in-laws house, attacked and killed his mother-in-law, seriously injured his father-
in-law, charged with murder and attempted murder; evidence established he was sleep-walking at the
time and that people who are sleepwalking cannot think, reflect or perform voluntary acts
ISSUE: should the jury have been left to decide between insane and non-insane automatism?
ANSWER: there was no evidence that condition was the product of a disease of the mind; only non-insane
automatism was available
SCC confirmed that voluntariness is part of the AR - burden on the Crown to prove
Defining a disease of the mind
a)Consider medical evidence
b)Legal/policy considerations?
-internal vs. external causes
-continuing danger
-risk of occurrence
R. v. Stone (1999, S.C.C)
Stabbed his wife 47 times; she insulted him, he felt a woosh and when he focused again, she had been
stabbed
Two step approach:
1) Did the accused act involuntarily?
-burden on the accused (balance of probabilities)
2) Is it insane or non-insane automatism?
-presumption that it is a disease of the mind (big change from Parks and Rabey)
-holistic test: does society require ongoing protection from the accused? (internal/external, continuing
anger, policy considerations, reasonableness of response)
R. v. Luedecke (2008, Ont. C.A)
FACTS: admitted that he had non-consensual sex with the complainant; claimed he was asleep at the
time, had a history of engaging in sexual activity while asleep
ISSUES: was his conduct involuntary? If so, was it the produce of a mental disorder/disease of the mind?
Doherty J.A.:
The respondent personifies one of the most difficult problems encountered in the criminal law. As
a result of his parasomnia, he did a terrible thing, he sexually assaulted a defenceless, young victim. The
reason for his conduct automatism brought on by parasomnia renders his actions non-culpable in the
eyes of the criminal law. That very same explanation, however, makes his behaviour potentially
dangerous and raises legitimate public safety concerns. An outright acquittal reflects the non-culpable
nature of the conduct but does nothing to address the potential danger posed by the respondents
condition.
-conduct was involuntary
-community still has an interest in assessing and managing dangerousness
-categorization as mentally ill not the issue
-Parks does not apply after Stone
-presumed to be a disease of the mind
-focus on risk of recurrence
-defining something as a disease of the mind is largely a policy consideration
Omissions
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