Tag Archives: criminal law

If only he had known that the Truth shall set you free!: R v. (Paul Brian) Brown [2011] EWCA Crim 786

August 31, 2011



The case concerns Paul Brown’s unsuccessful appeal against his GBH conviction (12months) from the 21st October 2010. Although the case was heard several months before the riots and the new, ‘tougher’ sentencing regime, it is interesting to note the lack of any softening because the punch happened on the playing fields rather than on the streets.

The assault itself occurred during a game of rugby in 2008 between two amateur Yorkshire clubs (West Park Leeds Lions & Ilkley). The victim (Mr David Tidman) had just got to his feet after being tackled and being at the base of a subsequent ruck and maul, when the defendant (Brown) ran a considerable distance and delivered a single punch to the Tidman’s right eye, knocking him out and causing grave injuries. The game was later abandoned.

One month later, Brown voluntarily attended a police station, where although he was arrested and charged, he denied the offence. This ultimately proved crucial to his sentencing, as although he was only 18 and of previously excellent character, the punch was a one-off incident, and there was a low risk of reconviction, the Judge (Hoffman J) was scathing of his defence.

Despite witness testimony to the contrary, Brown had tried unsuccessfully to argue that not only did he deny the offence, but that the blame for the incident should be placed on a smaller Canadian player, who was not called as a witness and was therefore unable to defend himself (to a certain extent, I can see his point – you know what these Canadians are like with all those Ice Hockey genes coursing through their veins!). On this occasion though, the Judge held that his defence was dishonest and absurd and while it did not increase the sentence, it did rob him of any sympathy the Court might have had, particularly since there was no evidence that Brown had accepted any responsibility for the injury.

While the Court of Appeal was at pains to include the ubiquitous confirmation that: “rugby was a contact sport and injuries quite frequently happen through perfectly normal and unintentional normal play….”

It did lay down a marker that: “….Nevertheless, unprovoked assault of the kind of which Paul Brown was convicted, is not only unacceptable, but must be dealt with in the way that such assaults have to be in these courts.”

Maybe there isn’t such a difference between criminal law and sports law after all? Or maybe the best advice for any athlete is simply to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity and blame the heat of the game rather than the Canadians!

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Hockey Goalie Pleads Guilty to Assault

October 8, 2009



Chicoutimi, Quebec

Jonathan Roy pleaded guilty to simple assault in a Quebec court and was granted an absolute discharge by the judge today.  The charge stemmed from an incident during a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff game in March 2009 when Quebec Remparts goaltender Jonathan Roy skated the length of the ice to fight an unwilling and defenseless Bobby Nadeau.  Roy’s attack was brutal and barbaric.  He punched Nadeau at least 14 times even while his victim lay supine on the ice. 

Roy’s guilty plea saved the court the task of balancing The Criminal Code of Canada with the playing culture of hockey.  Hockey is renowned for its violence.  What made this case interesting was that whilst hockey players generally consent to some level of violence both within and outwith the rules and accept some risk of injury, Roy’s victim did not agree to fight nor attempt to defend himself.  Incredibly, he was not injured. 

This case is unique insofar as a hockey player pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal assault for a fight in which the victim was not harmed.  A person commits an assault under s.265 of the Criminal Code when he applies force intentionally to another person, directly or indirectly, without the consent of the victim.  This clearly was the case at bar.  It is noteworthy that the sport of hockey is replete with instances where players have been injured in equally egregious circumstances but no charges are filed as it is rationalized as being all part of the game.

It’s impossible to speculate whether or not this case represents a turning point in Canadian courts’ treatment of hockey violence.  One thing for sure though, given that Roy couldn’t hurt Nadeau with a dozen-plus punches, it’s a good thing he’s hung up his skates and taken up a new career in singing.

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Hockey Player Acquitted of Assault

July 7, 2009



Victoria, BC 

Robin Gomez was acquitted of assault causing bodily harm in an incident which arose from a punch thrown during a semi-professional hockey game in 2008.  Hubbard J ruled that players impliedly consent to this type of misconduct and that retaliatory hits are part of the game. 

In several past hockey assault cases, defendant players have successfully pleaded that they were either provoked or acted in self-defence.  These acts of provocation included being struck in the head by an opponent’s stick or cross-checked from behind.  

What is particularly interesting in this case is that Hubbard J appears to regard taunting and trash talking as sufficient cause to incite or provoke an assault condoned by the courts. 

Hockey cases such as these are further complicated in proving the necessary mens rea insofar as Gomez’s role in the game is to intimidate and fight but not necessarily to injure.

Chris Ferraro’s civil suit is still pending.

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Hockey Violence on Trial in Canada

June 16, 2009



Victoria, BC

On the heels of a high school rugby player convicted of manslaughter last month in the 2007 death of Manny Castillo in Ontario, Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/05/28/castillo-guilty.html), the trial began today of a hockey player charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Robin Gomez of the Victoria Salmon Kings surprised an unsuspecting Chris Ferraro with a hard punch to the face during a minor professional hockey league game last year.  Ferraro hit his head on the ice, was concussed and required eight stitches.

It is yet another in a long line of civil and criminal cases plaguing hockey violence in Canada.  We’ll stay on top of this suit.

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Rollerblading Pensioner guilty

March 17, 2009


Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Rollerblading_pensioner_a_danger_to_the_public&in_article_id=554591&in_page_id=34; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1140673/Rollerblading-pensioner-taken-court-endangering-public.html


Pensioner, Geoffrey Dornan (71, from Ormskirk) has been found guilty of two counts of breaking a council byelaw by skating along the pavement on two occasions in Southport, Merseyside in October 2008.  The byelaw states that: no person shall skate, slide or ride on rollers, skateboards or other self-propelled vehicles in such a manner as to cause danger or annoyance”.


Although this byelaw does not seem to be an absolute prohibition on skating, Sefton MBC brought a case against Mr Dornan at North Sefton Magistates’ Court after he was caught on CCTV rollerblading at ‘an excessive speed’ around the busy shopping centre. Although Mr Dornan denied causing any annoyance or danger to the public, and indeed never made contact with any other pedestrian, the court held that the manner of the skating put pedestrians at risk and exposed them to harm.

A fine of £300 and costs of £1,792 were “suspended” by the Court after Dornan gave notice of an appeal to the Crown Court.

A video of Mr Dornan was quickly made after the court case by several news organisations. What’s interesting about the case is Mr Dornan’s age. Watch the video and see if you would still have the same opinion, if he had been 15yrs old instead of 71?


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Southampton Strikers arrested

March 10, 2009


Source: (BBC News) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7929977.stm 


Two Southampton strikers (Bradley Wright-Phillips and David McGoldrick) have been arrested by police on suspicion of affray and common assault, after a fan was allegedly assaulted between at 2am on Saturday February 7th in Southampton city centre. Both players have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

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R v. Porter article

March 6, 2009


Source: ‘How risk can be seen following R v. Porter’  Health & Safety at Work H.S. at W. (2009) Vol.16 No.1 Pages 4-5

Discussion of R v. Porter (James Godfrey) (2008) EWCA Crim 1271. The case itself concerned a headteacher who was charged with breaches of health and safety legislation following the death of one of his three-year old pupils who fell while jumping down some steps in the school playground.

More details of the incident can be seen here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1020519/Headmaster-blamed-death-pupil-playground-fall-wins-appeal-conviction.html  

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Pruitt arrested for DUI

March 5, 2009


Source: http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090226.wsptceltics0226/GSStory/GlobeSportsBasketball/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090226.wsptceltics0226; http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3936097

Gabe Pruitt (Boston Celtics Guard) has been arrested for misdemeanour drunken driving after failing a field sobriety test when stopped by Police at 3am.

Pruitt said in a statement that: “I sincerely apologize for my actions which have caused unnecessary embarrassment to my family, my team, and the Celtics organization, I used poor judgment and I am really disappointed in myself. I made a mistake and I have learned a valuable lesson.”

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Holmes recieves misdemeanour charge

March 5, 2009


Source: http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090226.wsptholmes26/GSStory/GlobeSportsFootball/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090226.wsptholmes26 ;

Santonio Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers receiver) waived his right to a preliminary hearing on a misdemeanour marijuana charge after Police found three marijuana-filled cigars in his car, last October 23rd. Holmes was co-operative with the officers and was not arrested. No date has been set for the charge although a formal arraignment is scheduled for April 29th.

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March 5, 2009

1 Comment

Sources: http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/crime_krqe_santa_fe_accused_hazing_leader_denies_guilt_200902122348 ; http://espn.go.com/otl/hazing/monday.html ; http://espn.go.com/otl/hazing/list.html ; http://www.news-bulletin.com/sports/86676-02-11-09.html

It would seem that hazing is alive and well in sports despite policies in place to the contrary.

The court in the infamous Robertson High School American Football hazing case has now arraigned defendants ahead of a full trial in June / August. The five defendants are charged with multiple counts of rape, attempted rape and kidnapping after trying to rape six younger teammates with a broomstick at a pre-season training camp. They have all pleaded not guilty. Although the state has not decided whether to press criminal charges against the football coaching staff, they have all resigned from their posts.

For a full description of the incident, click this news report: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/26856453/

The criminal charges against the players themselves are in stark contrast to another high-profile hazing incident involving the Downie-Aliu rookie initiation and subsequent fight. Although each of the players involved were suspended and the Windsor Spitfires hit with a $35,000 fine, it was actually Moe Mantha (the Windsor Spitfires general manager & head coach) who was hit the hardest (40 suspended games as coach, the entire season as GM) because he accepted that the buck ultimately stopped with him.

For a full description of the incident, click this news report: http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090220.wspt-maki-col-20/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090220.wspt-maki-col-20

The problem is, what actually counts as hazing? If you read the research from Alfred University, they suggest that it can be defined as, “Any activity expected of someone joining the group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. This does not include activities such as rookies carrying the balls, team parties with community games, or going out with your teammates, unless an atmosphere of humiliation, abuse or danger arises.”


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