It had to happen sooner or later: Red Bull is now being blamed for causing crime.

The energy drink has been taking a fair amount of flak in Australia over its high levels of caffeine but for the first time the drink has been associated with causing crime.

On May 19th a 17-year-old Darwin boy drove 300km to rob a supermarket of A$17,000 at knifepoint. In a hearing at the Northern Territory Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Steven Bailey heard that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was drinking up to 11 cans of Red Bull a day - more than twice the caffeine needed to cause significant toxic effects, the court was told.

Caffeine intoxication may have altered the boy's state "such that his judgement was impaired and he performed this robbery in the context of experiencing delirium", the psychiatrist's report stated.

"It appears there was a blurring between fantasy and reality, perhaps induced by caffeine and chronic sleep deprivation. Since committing this crime, [the boy] has weaned himself off the Red Bull and no longer has any caffeine. I've noticed the change in his ability to think rationally and he sleeps well."

Justice Bailey said the excessive consumption of caffeine may explain the boy's crime but did not excuse it. He also said that there was no causal link between caffeine and the crime.

"At best, the reports may provide some explanation for what occurred, but their speculative nature precludes acceptance of them as substantial mitigation."

The boy pleaded guilty and received a suspended four-year sentence.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Global Sports & Energy Drinks Report 2000
The 2000-2005 World Outlook for Sports and Isotonic Drinks