Man accused of attack on professor while high found naked in bathroom, judge told

When officers found Matthew Brown curled up on a stranger's bathroom floor, he was naked, confused and spoke in a "strained whisper."

Matthew Brown charged after man broke into Calgary home and beat woman

Matthew Brown is on trial for assault with a weapon and two counts of breaking and entering. He is accused of attacking a university professor with a broom handle in 2018. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

When officers found Matthew Brown curled up on a stranger's bathroom floor, he was naked, confused and spoke in a "strained whisper."

Brown is on trial for assault with a weapon, mischief and two counts of breaking and entering.

While high on mushrooms in January 2018, the Crown says, Brown broke into two homes in a seniors community, and assaulted Mount Royal University professor Janet Hamnett, 68, with a broken broom handle in one of the houses.

Brown's lawyer will put forward a defence of extreme intoxication to the point of automatism, meaning Sean Fagan will argue his client was too high on magic mushrooms to understand his actions at the time of the attack.

Normally that defence is not permitted, but in a hearing held ahead of the trial, Brown's lawyer successfully argued the current law is a violation of his client's Charter rights.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Michele Hollins is presiding over the two-week trial. The Crown was expected to wrap up its case Wednesday afternoon, with de​​​​​fence calling evidence beginning Thursday morning.

Originally from Truro, N.S., Brown was a student at Mount Royal University (MRU) and captained the school's hockey team for three years. Police say the MRU connection is a coincidence. 

3 calls to police

Between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. MT on Jan. 13, 2018, police answered three calls to the generally quiet, peaceful neighbourhood of Springbank Hill in southwest Calgary.

First, a group of friends called police to report Brown had taken off into the night naked while high on mushrooms. It was –20 C and they were worried.

Minutes later, while police were still en route to the check on welfare call, another 911 call came in, this one more urgent. 

Const. Jessica Juha said she and her partner redirected to the priority call, a home invasion in the same neighbourhood.

Brown's feet were 'extremely blue'

When they found Hamnett, she was at her neighbour's home. Hamnett had been attacked with a broken broom stick in her bedroom around 4:30 a.m. by a naked man who she described as "huge."

He hit her over and over again before she escaped to a bathroom and then to her neighbours' home. Hamnett's bloody hands were wrapped in towels. They were swollen and she'd suffered two broken bones in her right hand.

Janet Hamnett was badly beaten in January 2018 by a man who broke into her home. She suffered broken bones in her hand. (Court exhibit)

As Juha and her partner scoured the neighbourhood for the suspect, a third call came in. There had been another break-in nearby. 

There, officers found a blood trail leading them to Brown who was in the bathroom attached to the couple's spare bedroom. He was curled up on the floor, shivering. His feet were "extremely blue," said Juha.

Eventually, he came out, but Brown "appeared confused of his surroundings," the officer told prosecutor Matthew Block.

"Everything he did was slow and deliberate" and Brown spoke in a "strained whisper," said the officer. 

Police were concerned about Brown, and EMS was called to take him to hospital.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

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