A judge in Calgary, Canada has handed down what may be the first acquittal to a violent crime for a student who attacked a professor under the influence of magic mushroom or Psilocybin. Matthew Brown entered the home of Professor Janet Hamnett entirely naked and high on magic mushrooms. He then attacked her with a broomstick, leaving her with severe injuries. Nevertheless, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Michele Hollins found him intoxicated to the point of “automatism” and acquitted him.
In January 2018, Brown was drinking with some friends and they began taking magic mushrooms. He had previously taken magic mushrooms and, on this occasion, is assumed to have digested about 2.5 grams. He began to act odd and went back and forth to bed before dashing out naked around 3:45 am. Fifteen minutes later, he burst into the home of Hamnett and began to attack her. She eventually was able to lock herself in the bathroom and then escape to a neighbor’s home.
A student at Mount Royal University, Brown, 29, was charged with assault with a weapon and break-and-enter. He is a hockey player at the school where Hamnett teaches public relations. However, police say that the school connection was a coincidence.
Brown was apologetic throughout the trial and after the verdict. He had no history of violence.
In the United States, it is highly doubtful that Brown would have been given an acquittal. Drunk drivers and drug users are routinely sentenced for their offenses despite their intoxication or physical condition. However, the court in this case concluded that the magic mushrooms robbed Brown of volitional choice and control.
The case stands in contrast with research suggesting that magic mushroom make people less likely to commit violent crimes. Yet, some cases of bizarre assaults have been reported.
What do you think?
If you agree with the court on the loss of control (and magic mushrooms are legal), should Brown still be sentenced for these crimes?