November 10, 2008


Gullible means believing whatever defence lawyers say

From the Edmonton Sun:
Having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl he believed was older was not a criminal act by a Calgary man, a judge ruled yesterday.

Provincial court Judge Bruce Millar said Matthew Allan Armstrong's testimony he accepted the girl's claim she was 16 was convincing, especially since he suffers a condition which makes him more gullible.

Millar noted Armstrong has myotonic muscular dystrophy, a disease which makes it difficult for those afflicted to make complicated decisions.

"The sufferer deals in absolutes," he said, pointing to expert evidence called by defence lawyer Balfour Der.

"People with myotonic dystrophy tend to believe what they are told is fact."

Okay, a couple of problems here. First of all, it seems rather odd to me that muscular dystrophy would cause mental problems like "gullibility". But I'm not a doctor, so I can't really say.

More importantly, why is what Armstrong "believed" even relevant here? If he sincerely thought she was 16, and is now in trouble because she was actually 13, that's still his fault for not checking enough. If someone gets pulled over for going 50 km/h in a 30 km/h zone, I doubt they would get off by saying "Sorry officer, but my speedometer is broken, and I really believed I was only going 25."

But the real kicker is the very last line in the article:
Armstrong still faces other allegations he tried to lure young girls over the Internet and remains in custody on those charges.

I'm sure those other girls all claimed they were old enough too, right?

I think the judge must be the one with the gullibility disease...


It seems the judge suffers from the same condition.
Actually, the judge and the defense attorney are right.

The standard for most criminal offenses is subjective mens rea.

Every criminal act involves doing something wrong and KNOWING that you're doing something wrong.

In lawyer speak, this means you have to prove the 'actus reas' (the guilty act) and the 'mens rea' the guilty mind.

It is not enough to prove that the person OUGHT to have known that she was under 16, but that he DID KNOW she was under 16.

This may seem unreasonable, but it is what the law requires.

As for your speeding offense, it is not criminal law, its a provincial offense, but even that can be mitigated by a defense that you didn't know you were speeding (but good luck trying).
But isn't the fact that he's up on multiple other charges of luring underage girls pretty strong evidence that his "I thought she was 16" claim is bogus?
Must be Canadian law because here in most US states, it's called statutory rape and the law does not care what you thought her age was. If you thought she was 16 (still statutory rape in most US states) and she was 18, no crime. On the other hand, if she turns out to be younger, tough luck.
In the defendants case, seems like the lawyer plead diminished capcaity on the defendant's part and got away with it. Looks like a pretty skinny defense but we are just reading the news articles and dont know all of the facts.
I was one of the girls that Micheal Allan Armstrong molested
he is a really scary guy, He took me too a movie, and raped me in the washroom it was at sunridge theatre in Calgary N.E and the movie we saw was Prom Night

Counselling and abstaining from booze didn't prevent an online predator from reoffending, a prosecutor said yesterday in arguing for a jail term.

Crown lawyer Nadine Nesbitt said Matthew Allan Armstrong poses too great a risk to be given a conditional sentence to be served in the community.

Nesbitt noted Armstrong was receiving weekly counselling from a psychologist and wasn't drinking when he violated his release on other charges and tried to lure young girls via the Internet.

"He was in counselling, he'd been in counselling weekly with Dr. (Clark) Sloan right up to his incarceration, so that wasn't helping his risk to reoffend," Nesbitt said.

Defence counsel Balfour Der has suggested provincial court Judge Allan Fradsham give Armstrong, who is in custody, a community-based term.

But Nesbitt said a jail sentence of 18 months to two years, followed by three years of probation, would better control the danger Armstrong poses.

Armstrong pleaded guilty last November to six charges, including three of Internet luring after he tried to get teenage girls to meet him for sex.

One of his targets actually turned out to be a 19-year-old woman attempting to catch predators and another was an undercover police officer.

"Armstrong also convinced a 14-year-old girl to meet him and go to a movie, where they had sexual intercourse in a bathroom. "

At the time, Armstrong was under strict bail conditions relating to charges he faced for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- charges he was later cleared of because he believed the girl was older.

The conditions included he not have access to the Internet, or be alone with anyone under the age of 18.

Before Nesbitt's submissions, Sloan testified Armstrong, 28, needs counselling to deal with impulsive behaviour and substance addiction.

The case returns to court Jan. 30.
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