B.C. court acquits man of stabbing his wife, finds he was in state of ‘automatism’
A judge in British Columbia has acquitted a man of stabbing his partner with a kitchen knife, agreeing with the defense’s arguments that the defendant was in a drug- and alcohol-induced state of “automatism” at the time.
Jean-Luc Perignon, now in his early 60s, admits he was stabbed to death in April 2017 at the home he shared with his then-wife on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, but argued he should not be charged with aggravated assault should because he has consumed alcohol and been prescribed strong drugs that deprive him of voluntary thought or intention.
In his ruling, Judge Warren Milman outlined Perignon’s struggles with extreme pain from two separate car accidents that resulted in an opioid prescription that the ruling describes as “dangerously high” and above levels that “would be fatal to someone naïve to opioids.” “.
Perignon’s severe insomnia, meanwhile, led to a prescription for the sedative zopiclone, which the ruling may be associated with “activities normally associated with wakefulness that occur when the subject is in a sleep-like state.”
In the six days leading up to the stabbing, Milman writes, Perignon “experimented” with rapidly escalating doses, and on the night of the attack, the opioids plus “three or four” alcoholic beverages erased his memory of most events except “about his wife.” to stand while she lay in front of him on the floor and cried out in pain.”
In finding Perignon not guilty, Milman dismisses Crown’s arguments that Perignon understood his actions, admitting immediately after the stabbing that he “just did something really stupid,” and instead writing, “The more likely The explanation for his behavior is that it was completely involuntary because it happened while he was effectively asleep.”
“It is possible,” writes Milman, that Perignon acted premeditated despite his “severely impaired mental state,” but even the QC admits the case was “close to the fringe.”
“He also concedes that there was no apparent motive for the stabbing and that the trigger for the act, if there was one, appears to be Mr. Perignon’s consumption pattern of prescription drugs and alcohol,” Milman says of the case Crown .
The month after the stabbing, the verdict says Perignon had completely weaned himself off opioids and resumed taking other types of sleeping pills instead of zopiclone.
Perignon has had “no trouble” sleeping since, Milman writes.
His verdict is based on statements by psychiatrist Dr. Shaohua Lu, who said the stabilized sleep patterns were “very consistent” with noting that Perignon was suffering from a “severe sleep disorder” at the time of the attack.
“I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the offense with which Mr. Perignon is charged was not a voluntary act but was committed while he was in a state of automatism of non-mental disorder,” concludes Milman.