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Canadian Player Found Guilty of Manslaughter in On-Field Incident

Thursday May 28, 2009 in Off the Field General

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May 28, 2009, Brampton, Ont. — A Canadian Press report says a judge has found a teenage rugby player guilty of manslaughter in the death of an opposing player following an after-the-whistle incident two years ago.

Manny Castillo, 15, died from a head injury a few days after he hit his head on the field during a junior rugby game in May 2007. Ontario Justice Bruce Duncan found the now 18-year-old player guilty of manslaughter today, saying says the sports field is not a "criminal law-free zone."

In handing down his ruling, Duncan said the laws of Canada apply equally on the playing field as off. The Crown successfully argued that the accused, then 16, committed manslaughter when he lifted Castillo into the air, his feet facing upwards, and then drove him head first into the ground.

Family members and supporters broke into tears as the verdict was read.

"The defendant intentionally applied force that was outside the rules of the game or any standard by which the game is played," Duncan ruled. "The defendant committed an assault, an unlawful act. That unlawful act caused death. The defendant is therefore guilty of manslaughter."

The defense said their client was acting in self defense and Castillo, in knowingly playing a physical sport had consented to physical force being use on him.

Duncan said the force applied was not within legal bounds. Duncan told the court that he accepted the evidence of the game's referee that the accused - who had played aggressively and fought with referees during the game - jumped up after injuring the victim and essentially admitted what he had done.

The accused had pleaded not guilty in the judge-alone trial.

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