WDW225: R.v.Stone.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Prof Breese

R. v. Stone (1999, 2 S.C.R 290) Facts: The accused admitted stabbing his wife 47 times but claimed to have it done due to his wife’s insulting words which led him to an automatistic state, which he stated as a “whooshing” sensation. After he recovered from the momentary blackout, he found himself holding a six-inch hunting knife and observed his wife slumping over on the seat. He disposed of the body, cleaned up and flew to Mexico. Six weeks later, after having this sensation of his throat cut and the dream he had about the night he murdered his wife—he remembered stabbing his wife twice in the chest before the blackout—he returned to Canada, spoke to his lawyer and turned himself into police. He was charged with murder. In his defense, the accused claimed of his condition throughout the murder: insane automatism, non-insane automatism, lack of intent and also claimed provocation. The Lower court decisions: The trial judge ruled that the defence had laid a proper evidentiary foundation for insane automatism. As the defendant instructed jury on insane automatism, intention in relation to second degree murder and provocation, the lower courts found the accused guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal upheld accused’s conviction and dismissed the Crown’s appeal of the sentence. As a result, both the accused and the Crown appealed to the Supreme Court. Legal Issues: Three issues were brought up while the Court was reviewing the case. 1. Whether the “defence” of sane automatism should have been left to the jury: Yes. Once the trial judge exercised his gatekeeper function to screen invaluable and fabricated claims, it was for the jury to make up its mind on the credibility of the plea of automatism. It is to be expected that the jury will subject the evidence for involuntariness to appropriate inspection. The jury is as important as anyone in the justice system to maintain its credibility. Furthermore, that the task of weighing the credibility of such defences was restricted by Parliament to the jury. Thus, the Court should respect the distribution of that responsibility. 2. Whether the defence psychiatric report was properly ordered disclosed to the Crown The defence waived the privilege in its psychiatrist’s report at the opening of its case when counsel disclosed the elements in that report favourable to his client. A witness is offering an opinion for the assistance of the court rather than advising pr
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