This is a refreshing bit of Canadian jurisprudence. A tragic tale of death resulting from consensual but ill-advised bondage practices, and the charge brought was, accordingly, criminal negligence:

MONTREAL – A man convicted of manslaughter through criminal negligence after his girlfriend died during an experimental weekend of sado-masochistic sex has been ordered to serve a one-year prison term.

Patrick Deschatelets, 46, a Montreal firefighter, learned his sentence Thursday morning at the Longueuil courthouse during a hearing before Quebec Court Judge Claude Provost.

Deschatelets met the woman through a club for adults interested in sado-masochistic sex, in which one partner plays a dominant role while the other acts submissive. The victim had much less experience in such role-playing activities than Deschatelets. According to evidence heard during the trial, Deschatelets and the woman agreed to spend a weekend at his house, in February 2008, experimenting with role-playing activities.

On the day she died, the woman, who wrote about her experiences that weekend in a sort of diary on a computer, agreed to be bound in chains — with her feet fully restrained but touching the floor — with a metal collar around her neck. Deschatelets had the elaborate apparatus set up in his basement.

At one point, he stepped out to buy pasta for their dinner and when he came back, he found the woman unconscious and slumped forward in the chains. Using techniques he learned as a firefighter, he tried to revive the woman but she died of asphyxiation. It was later determined she had passed out from fatigue, slumped forward and was choked by the metal collar.

My impression is that the woman’s blog (aka “some sort of diary on a computer”) was very important to the defense, establishing a context of consent and doubtless saving the defendant from more serious charges. But there’s no excuse — not even her consent matters here — for leaving someone unsupervised and helpless in bondage that could compromise their breathing. It’s kind of amazing to see that the case was processed based on the actual criminal acts, rather than being treated as a kinky sex crime.

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