Halifax lawyer Joel Pink said drinking too many of the caffeinated beverages triggered his client, Jyong Chul Lee, to have an outburst and threaten his residence adviser at the school on Sept. 10.
"I have never seen a case where a person has been drinking as much Red Bull that Mr. Lee has been drinking," Pink said Thursday.
Lee, 25, was expelled from the university and charged with mischief, creating a disturbance and criminal harassment. He pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday in Sydney provincial court.
In handing down her sentence, Judge Jean Whalen agreed to a joint request from the Crown and defence that Lee be sent back to Korea. He's expected to be escorted home on Friday.
Underwent psychiatric evaluation
Lee had been in custody since the September incident. In that time, he underwent a month-long psychiatric examination at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth.
"According to the psychiatric report, basically it showed that he was under — at the time — a caffeine overdose or what we call caffeine intoxication," Pink told reporters outside the courtroom Thursday.
"That, of course, would affect his mood, affect his personality. The way I would look at it based on the forensic hospital's report that he had consumed so much that he was irritable, suffering from anxiety, things of that sort."
Pink described his client as a perfectionist and said Lee drank copious quantities of Red Bull so he could stay up longer to study, believing that would ensure he got the best possible marks in the courses he was taking.
Drank loads of caffeine
The lawyer said Lee's psychiatric report suggested 500 to 600 mg of caffeine a day could cause caffeine intoxication. Pink said he was surprised to learn of the report's findings.
"I've never read any cases in the last 40 years where the defence of caffeine intoxication was ever raised," said Pink.
"Not to say it hasn't, but I've never seen it. I've seen it in some cases in the U.S., but not here in Canada."
Pink believes proving caffeine intoxication in court still remains a challenge, but said he's pleased the judge took it into consideration in handing down her sentence.
"I take it from my review of the matter in total that if it wasn't for the caffeine that he was drinking in sizeable amounts, that he in fact would never have been in this position," Pink said.