The Case Of Kenneth Parks

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In the early morning hours of May 23rd, 1987, a man assaulted and murdered two people, but unlike any other ordinary cases, he managed to do so while ‘asleep’. Kenneth Parks, a 23-year-old man living in Toronto, drove approximately 23 km to his in-laws’ home (in the condition of sleepwalking).1 He then broke into the house and seriously injured his father in-law, Dennis Woods, attempting to strangle him to death and murdered his mother in-law, Barbara Woods, using a tire iron and a kitchen knife.2 In conclusion of the case, on May 28th, 1998, with his defence being successful, the jury made a verdict of not guilty and Parks was acquitted of his crimes (The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the acquittal in 1992).1 There were strong, supportive …show more content…
Ervin, one of the experts behind Parks’ defence, stated that during the slow wave sleep stage (a test conducted), the cortex was essentially in a coma which had affected the movements he made by making them less or more reflexive.1 So when he was ‘asleep’, his physical movement were not intended which makes the murder/assault inadvertent. One might say that in a legal sense, “disease of the mind” includes any illness, disorder or abnormal condition that may impair the human mind; however, it excludes self-induced states along with transitory mental states which sleepwalking is included in.1 Kenneth Parks successfully used Automatism for defence, and it was related to the legal term and definition of sleeping …show more content…
His crimes may fall into the categories of involuntary manslaughter as, according to the Criminal Code of Canada, it is defined to be, “Culpable homicide that otherwise would be murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.”3 However, the ‘sudden provocation’ was the brain activity in Parks’ time of sleepwalking instead. Even though Kenneth Parks was ‘asleep’ during his violent actions, it does not change the fact that he may have committed an involuntary manslaughter. In previous cases, there were two British decisions that went against the logic behind the case of R. v. Parks: R. v. Sullivan, [1983] 2 All E.R. 673, and R. v. Burgess, [1991] 2 All E.R. 769.1

There was a comment on R. v. Sullivan stating, “If the effect of a disease is to impair these faculties so severely as to have either of the consequences referred to in the latter part of the (M’Naghten) rules, it matters not whether the aetiology of the impairment is organic, as in epilepsy, or functional, or whether the impairment itself is permanent or is transient and intermittent, provided that it subsisted at the time of commision of the

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