A Canadian judge has ruled a man was not guilty of committing a hit and run, because he was so drunk he didn’t even realise he’d hit anyone.
Trevor Clarke, 37, of Ottawa, Canada, was four times over the drink-drive limit when he hit a cyclist in 2012, causing traumatic brain injury and memory loss to nurse Jennifer Leonard, 45. Clarke hit her with his truck and continued driving. He was tried for impaired driving causing bodily harm, of which he was found guilty, and for the offence of failing to stop at a traffic accident, which he was not.
Justice David Paciocco ruled “…I must, however, find Mr. Clarke not guilty of the failing to stop offence. I am left in a reasonable doubt about whether Mr. Clarke knew or was wilfully blind to having collided with a person, precisely because he was so drunk.
“He cannot, therefore, be convicted of this offence, but he can be punished for getting himself to that point of intoxication and thereby harming (the cyclist)”, reports The Ottawa Citizen.
The extraordinary finding regarding Clarke’s culpability while drunk is not the only reason this case has been generating legal controversy. The judge also found the arresting officers had mishandled his arrest, as they failed to read him his rights, denied him the right to have a lawyer present while being questioned, and were unable to answer questions about his arrest at trial.