Her Majesty the Queen v. Daniel Brunelle
(Quebec) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Criminal law - Appeals, Evidence, Unreasonable verdict, Defences, Self-defence - Criminal law — Appeals — Evidence — Unreasonable verdict — Defence — Self defence — Whether majority erred in law in holding that verdict was unreasonable even though trial judge’s findings of fact were supported by evidence.
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In the Court of Québec, the respondent, Daniel Brunelle, was convicted of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. The offences arose out of an episode of road rage. The trial judge found that the respondent had not acted in self defence. With regard to the second condition for self defence, she did not believe the respondent’s claim that he had used force for the purpose of defending himself. She found that he had instead retaliated and taken revenge.
The Quebec Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, set aside the guilty verdicts and ordered a new trial. In the majority’s view, the trial judge had erred in analyzing the second condition for self defence by finding that the accused had sought to take revenge and had done more than defend himself. The judge had not taken account of how quickly everything happened and had not considered all the evidence. Bachand J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal on the basis that there was no reason to intervene. In his view, the issue was whether the trial judge’s finding that the respondent had acted out of vengeance was sufficiently supported by the evidence and involved no palpable and overriding error. He found that this was the case.
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