A BC man who stabbed his wife in the back with a kitchen knife was acquitted because he had a state of automatism, a term used to describe unconscious, involuntary behavior.
according to BC Supreme Court DecisionJean-Luc Charles Pérignon stabbed his wife Debra in April 2017 after having Easter Monday dinner at his home on the Sunshine Coast.
The judge ruled that the most likely explanation for Perignon’s actions was that it was “completely involuntary, as it happened while he was effectively asleep”.
Perignon’s wife heard her husband’s footsteps, so she opened the front door of her home and let the dog out around 10 p.m. on Easter Monday, according to the ruling.
“She had never seen him or heard him say anything,” the ruling said. “She felt a ‘thump’ in her back and realized she had been stabbed. She took the knife behind her back and pulled it out herself, severely cutting her thumb in the process.
Perignon testified that his memories of that night were mixed with each other. He took antidepressants and took a regular mixture of opioids to treat pain.10 minutes before he went to bed, he took a non-benzodiazepine commonly prescribed for insomnia. I took some zopiclone.
He also drank three or four glasses of Pastis, an anise-flavoured liqueur, at dinner.
I remember taking off my shoes and socks before going to bed and feeling a pain in my back.
“His next memory was standing over him while his wife lay on the floor in front of him, screaming in pain,” the ruling said. I remember seeing him fall. He was in shock.”
Perignon was charged with aggravated assault.
Perignon was taking opioids for pain and benzodiazepines for insomnia after two car accidents, according to the ruling. Enforced.
Perignon’s doctor said he had to stop one or the other, and he chose painkillers over benzodiazepines for his insomnia.
According to the ruling, he suffered from withdrawal symptoms and tried various medications for his insomnia, to no avail.
In January 2017, he was prescribed zopiclone. Although Zopiclone is not a benzodiazepine, it is a drug that is “said to have similar pharmacology” and poses risks when combined with opioids. It is not recommended that patients take Zopiclone for more than 10 consecutive days, the ruling said.
After Perignon saw no improvement in his sleep, he switched to another drug and went back to Zopiclone. said.
Automatism, Judge Says, Because Defenses Are Rarely Successful
The psychiatrist testified that the amount he was taking before the attack “was far beyond the recommended prescription range for this drug.”
When Perignon took Zopiclone, he also took “dangerously high doses of opioids.”
“[Perignon] It is certain that he is in a state of mental disturbance, and more likely that [in] Changes in sleep state” and read a report from a psychiatrist.
“Perhaps he was in a state of complex sleep-related behavior, which is why Mr. Pérignon was unaware of his behavior and was unable to form any underlying intentions.”
At the sentencing, Justice Warren Millman said the use of automatism as a defense is rarely successful.
“Since the law generally assumes that people act voluntarily and are responsible for their actions, Mr Pérignon has a heavy burden of proving that the usual presumption should not apply here. We owe it,” said the ruling.
Millman later said that Perignon “convincingly took responsibility to show that his conduct was indeed involuntary.”
Since the incident, Perignon has had no contact with his ex-wife or his youngest daughter, who lives with her, according to the ruling.