Nirmala Devi Arjun v. Her Majesty the Queen

(British Columbia) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law - Defences, Intoxication.


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Criminal law – Defences – Intoxication – Air of reality – Whether there was an air of reality to the defence of intoxication – Whether the Court of Appeal has unduly raised the evidentiary burden for the advanced intoxication defence in murder cases by requiring expert and eye-witness evidence of intoxication, and by reasoning that circumstantial proof of intoxication is of no probative value or is irrelevant – When a murder charge involves extensive injuries to a victim, must an accused who raises the intoxication defence bear an evidentiary burden of proving incapacitation-by-intoxication.

Mr. Canning, the applicant’s friend, was found dead on the floor of the applicant’s bedroom. Mr. Canning sustained numerous sharp and blunt force injuries. The police officer found a meat cleaver and a bread knife in the applicant’s kitchen sink. There were no eye-witnesses, but the neighbours heard loud noises coming from the applicant’s apartment. After a trial by judge and jury, the applicant was convicted of second degree murder. The Court of Appeal dismissed the conviction appeal.