The Defence of Intoxication: The 31st of December, 2016! Everyone was happy this beautiful day. Calls were competing on her phone as if callers were hoping to win an Olympic gold medal. Texts were rolling into her telephone line like the waves of the atlantic ocean. All her social media were flooded with greetings and best wishes just for her on this memorable day.
What was special about this day? It was very lit in the living room of the Akunades which was usually nothing short of a serene atmosphere. The room housed a set of succulent sofa which provided a heavenly feeling to anyone who sat on them. The music from the home theatre was pounding the silent in the room with the strong bass it exuded.
An Italian glass-made dinning table clothed with glittering dark colour was also noticeable in the living room. A mighty cake with a touch of sophisticated design was sitting gallantly on the dinning table while being surrounded by bottles of exotic wines. Cup cakes, assorted meats, chocolate crackles, small chops among other recipes also proudly supported the cake while the beautifully designed greeting cards passed the requisite message.
One would definitely wonder, “what’s it with this day?” It was exactly 7:30am; Toyosi who has been indoor receiving calls and reading texts came out to the living room. She was so amazed at the sight of the dinning table. “Omotoyosi mi, omo Akunade, Happy celebration to you. It’s your 25th birthday! Cheers to a new age my darling. It’s the beginning of something great”, Mrs. Akunade whispered to her ears from behind.
Toyosi’s father, Dr. Akunade who gladly watched them from the entrance of the master bedroom happily chorused, “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!! Happy birthday to you my baby, happy birthday to you!!!”. Yes! It was the 25th birthday of Omotoyosi Akunade, the only child of Dr. & Mrs. Akunade.
Toyosi who was short of words employed her two hands in covering her mouth with great shock written all over her face. Within a twinkle of an eye, a troubling noise from outside penetrated the living room and they wondered what could have have happened. Mrs. Akunade ran to the main door, locked it firmly and kept the key under the sofa.
Suddenly, someone knocked at the door, “ko, ko,ko”. “Who is that?”, Dr. Akunade asked. The person sounded, “I am”. “It’s only the Almighty God that’s ‘I am’. Who are you?”, Mrs. Akunade cut in. “It’s no other person that the visitor you’ve been expecting”, person replied. “Don’t you have a name?”, Dr. Akunade asked angrily. By this time, Toyosi was already hiding inside the visitor’s toilet in the living room.
“Happy Happy Birthday! That is all I can say. I wish you many, many happy returns. Toyo Baby, happy birthday to you!!”. At the hearing of the name “Toyo Baby”, Toyosi ran speedily out of the toilet straight to the sofa and picked the key to the door. All efforts by her parents to prevent her from opening the door, since they didn’t know the identity of the person in question, proved abortive.
No other person called her by the pet name “Toyo Baby” other than her fiance, Ayotunde Williams. At the sight of Ayotunde, who was holding an exotic cake customized by De Awesome Touch (DAT), Toyosi screamed heavily, “and you didn’t tell me”. “Sweetie, it was deliberate; the plan was to give you a groundbreaking surprise”. “Oh my God! You got me cake made by De Awesome Touch Events? You’re such a darling”.
At this point, Dr. & Mrs. Akunade didn’t know what their reaction should be. Ayotunde Williams was a Petroleum Engineer working with Shell Petroleum Company in the United States as well as a PhD student at Harvard University. They had always had telephone conversations with him but never met him in person. Ayotunde had purposely flown in from the United States just to celebrate her fiancee, Omotoyosi Akunade on the occasion of her 25th birthday.
Ayotunde tendered sincere apologies to Dr. & Mrs. Akunade for the confusion and timidity he caused while playing his pranks. “Apologize on my behalf if you don’t want Dad and Mum to send me away”, Kehinde whispered into Toyosi’s ears and they all laughed over it.
Ayotunde happily had breakfast with the Akunade family and expressed his pleasure in meeting Toyosi’s parents whom he had always spoken with on phone. He thereafter took permission from Dr. & Mrs. Akunade to take Toyosi out on a date in the evening and Dr. Akunade gave his consent. “But please don’t stay too late outside”, Mrs. Akunade added.
At exactly 5:02pm, a red ferrari arrived in front of the duplex of the Akunades. Yes, Ayotunde who was driven by his father’s driver, had come to pick up Toyosi. They proceeded to Ralenda Inn where they sat down to have a nice time only for Toyosi to see Taiwo and Kehinde Alalade who sat about three tables away from theirs.
Taiwo had always found Toyosi attractive from their days in Riverledge University where they were classmates and he asked her to be his girlfriend. “Oh I see, so this is the guy that didn’t allow this babe to consider me”, Taiwo thought aloud. “How will she consider you? You must be a joker! Apart from considering how beautiful she is, she was the best student in your faculty and you expect her not to have her shoulders high?”, Kehinde muttered.
“Kehinde! You know what? Let’s do something, if this girl doesn’t go with me, this guy must also lose her”, Taiwo said. Kehinde replied, “God forbid! I’m not part of you plans and if you try anything illegal, I’ll report you”. Kehinde subsequently excused himself to use the convenience when Taiwo quickly dropped a substance containing atomoxetine in Kehinde’s glass of wine as well as his.
There was a vibration from Toyosi’s phone as a sign that she had received a text. She decided not to check the text as a sign of respect for Ayotunde. More so, it was her birthday and she was expecting many more. Ayotunde noticed this and insisted she read it. It was her girlfriend, Victoria who sent her a text “Congrats babygirl, we got not only Harvard admission but also the Scholarship”. “Yes, I made it! Thank God! Sweetheart, this is the best thing that ever happened to me”, she shouted.
Upon Kehinde’s return, he immediately finished his glass of wine and made to leave when they sighted a helicopter in the sky descending towards them. This scene invariably distracted Ayotunde and Toyosi as well and Ayotunde couldn’t have the goodnews as a result of this.
The helicopter landed on the bear field close to where they were sitting and two men bearing arms alighted from it. A young, handsome looking man who was dressed in red suit with red shoes subsequently alighted from the helicopter and approached Ayotunde and Toyosi in the company of the arms bearing men.
The young man in red suit looked closely at Toyosi and Ayotunde couldn’t help but ask, “Mr. Man, what exactly is the problem?”. “Shut up! Let me do my work”, the man cut in. “Young lady, you are wanted!”, he continued while handing over the red envelope in his hand to Toyosi. Toyosi checked the letter in the envelope which read “YOU ARE WANTED BY AYOTUNDE”.
At this point, Ayotunde was on his knees with a diamond ring in his right hand. He held Toyosi’s left hand while putting the ring on her finger and he asked, “Sweetheart, will you marry me?” By this time, the orchestral, fully robbed in red attire, had also alighted from the helicopter and while they sang romantic melodies, Toyosi shed tears of joy.
Suddenly, Taiwo stood up from where he was sitting down and rushed towards Toyosi with the glass in his hand. Kehinde ran after Taiwo, collected the glass in his hand, broke it and gave back to him a piece of the broken glass bearing a sharp edge. Taiwo said in a low tone, “Omotoyosi, I love you but Jesus loves you more”.
Before Ayotunde could say Jack Robinson, Taiwo stabbed Toyosi on her chest three times and threw the broken glass away with blood dripping from his hands. “Yes! I did it. I need an award for this.” Taiwo shouted.
Taiwo and Kehinde were subsequently charged for the offence of murder and conspiracy to commit murder to wit: the killing of Miss. Omotoyosi Akunade. Upon the completion of trial, Taiwo was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging while Kehinde was discharged and acquitted.
A very good brother of mine, Mr. Oyebola read the story in the newspaper and wondered, “How will twin brothers kill an innocent girl on her birthday, a day to new year, a day she got a marriage proposal and the day she got a scholarship to study at Harvard University, and the court will jail just one and release the other?”
Points to Note:
1. The defence of intoxication is available to persons charged with criminal offences on the basis that, because of the intoxication, the defendant did not understand the nature of his or her actions or know what he or she was doing.
2. It’s the view of some jurists that intoxication is not a defence to a crime per se, but where persons intoxicated through drink or drugs commit crimes, the level of intoxication may prevent such persons from forming the necessary mens rea (intention) of the crime.
3. For the purpose of emphasis, as a general rule, the actus reus (physical element) and the men’s rea (mental element -such as intention) must be proved beyond reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted of an offence.
4. Note, however, that the law does not intend to have criminals exculpated simply by claiming they were so drunk or under intoxication and they did not know what they were doing. That would be against public interest.
5.The law has therefore set down rules which ensures that the defence of intoxication applies in very limited circumstances and typically depends on whether the intoxication was voluntary or involuntary, and what level of intent is required by the criminal charge.
6. The law draws a distinction between voluntary and involuntary intoxication and is more favourable to criminal defendants who have not voluntarily put themselves into an intoxicated state.
7. Involuntary intoxication occurs when someone is tricked into consuming a substance like drugs or alcohol, or when someone is forced to do so. A very common example of involuntary intoxication is where a person has had their food or drink spiked without their knowledge.
8. However, it may also cover where a particular drug has an unexpected result to that anticipated, but if the effect is expected and the defendant merely underestimated the strength, then the intoxication is regarded as voluntary.
9. In case of voluntary intoxication, where the defendant has voluntarily put himself in the position of being intoxicated to the extent that he is not capable of forming the mental element of the crime the law will not excuse him.
10. In some cases, the defence of voluntary intoxication does not totally exculpate the defendant but instead merely reduces the overall culpability for the crime. For example, the court may reduce the charge to a lesser crime if he or she successfully proves that intoxication limited his or her intent or comprehension of the crime.
Based on the above rules of law, one can safely conclude that Taiwo’s conviction and Kehinde’s acquittal were based on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary intoxication. In other words, although both Taiwo and Kehinde acted under intoxication but Taiwo was convicted of murder because he voluntarily intoxicated himself while Kehinde was acquitted because his was involuntary intoxication. However, the defence of intoxication does not generally lead to acquittal instead the charge may be dropped to a lesser offence.
THE LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is a budding lawyer and the Founder of THE LEGAL DIARY.
He was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, and holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State where he was awarded a First Class (Honours). He is currently a Bar Aspirant at the Nigerian Law School (Lagos Campus).