Arson was specific intent offence and appropriate to consider evidence of intoxication

Ontario criminal | Arson

ELEMENTS OF OFFENCE

Arson was specific intent offence and appropriate to consider evidence of intoxication

Trial judge acquitted accused of arson after considering evidence of accused’s intoxication. Accused stayed at girlfriend’s residence following breakup and drinking to excess while agitated. Accused woke up and left bacon cooking on “high” while intoxicated and leaving residence to return to fire. Trial judge considered defence of accident and accused’s intoxication after concluding arson was specific intent offence. Trial judge finding reasonable doubt accused had ability to understand fires could be likely outcome of actions. Crown’s appeal dismissed. Trial judge correct that arson was specific intent offence and appropriate to consider evidence of intoxication. Offence of arson required proof of subjective mental elements of intent or recklessness. Parliament intended to distinguish arson in s. 434 from accidental fires by including offence of arson by negligence in s. 436.
R. v. Tatton (Apr. 8, 2014, Ont. C.A., S.T. Goudge J.A., K. van Rensburg J.A., and G. Pardu J.A., File No. CA C57550) 112 W.C.B. (2d) 643.

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