Calgary

Student accused of nude broom attack on prof was high on mushrooms, defence hopes to argue

The Mount Royal University student who is accused of brutally beating a professor with a broom handle after breaking into her home wants to argue at trial that he was too high on magic mushrooms to understand his actions.

Matthew Brown was charged after a naked man broke into home and beat professor with broom handle

Former Mount Royal hockey captain Matthew Brown is accused of attacking an MRU professor in her Springbank Hill home last year. (mrucougars.com)

The Mount Royal University student who is accused of brutally beating a professor with a broom handle after breaking into her home wants to argue at trial that he was too high on magic mushrooms to understand his actions.

Matthew Brown, 27, is charged with two counts of break and enter, assault with a weapon and mischief. The suspect was naked at the time of the attack.

An MRU faculty member in her mid-60s was attacked in her home by a naked man in January 2018 and beaten with a broom handle, which left her with torn tendons, severe bruising and a broken hand, which required surgery. 

Police have said the MRU connection was a coincidence — the professor lived in the southwest community of Springbank Hill where a party was taking place at a neighbouring home. 

Brown, who is originally from Truro, N.S., has no criminal record and played major junior hockey before he became the captain of the MRU varsity team for three years.

A hearing is underway, with Brown's lawyer Sean Fagan arguing his client should be allowed to argue extreme intoxication as a defence. 

Fagan characterized the section of the Criminal Code that prohibits the use of extreme self-intoxication as a defence as "unfair, unconstitutional and unjustifiable."

In order to use that particular defence for crimes of violence, judges — in this case, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Willie deWit — must agree with defence lawyers through two steps of legal arguments.

First, deWit must find that, without the extreme intoxication defence, Brown's Charter right to be presumed innocent and/or his right to life, liberty and security of the person has been violated.

In each of the 11 cases heard in Canadian courts since parliament changed the law in the 1990s, judges have sided with defence lawyers at this stage.

It's at the next step where Canadian case law varies.

Judges must then consider whether the breach is justified under Section 1 of the Charter, which allows for limits on a person's rights if the Crown can prove those limitations are justified.  

Prosecutor Deborah Alford argued Tuesday that there needs to be "criminal accountability for this behaviour."

If Fagan is successful in both prongs of his application, he can then raise the issue of extreme intoxication at trial. But it will ultimately be up to a jury to accept or reject the defence.

The trial is set to take place in November.

Victim hid in bathroom

After waking up to the noise of her glass door being smashed, the victim walked out of her bedroom to find a naked man inside her home.

She was immediately attacked by the man, who hit her repeatedly with a broom handle.

The woman ran to a bathroom and locked herself inside before fleeing to a nearby home, where her neighbours called 911. Brown was arrested nearby a short time later.

The month after the attack, following a hearing, the university ruled it would allow Brown to complete his degree but would not permit him on campus, a decision the victim's family called "reasonable."

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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