Two years in the making. Manny Castillo archive below. Will update as warrants. Honestly, after going through the ringer on this two years ago, I don't know how much more I can say, aside from the fact that we still really don't know the whole truth.
Teen guilty in rugby death
May 28, 2009
A Mississauga high school student was found guilty of manslaughter today in the death of a rival player during a rugby game.
The teen, now 18, was visibly upset – as were family members – after Justice Bruce Duncan rendered his decision in a Brampton courtroom.
His mother hugged him as he sat forlorn, his head down, at a table at the front of the packed Brampton courtroom.
Justice Bruce Duncan decided his actions that day caused the death of Manny Castillo.
The accused pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. He will be sentenced at a later date.
In rendering his decision, Justice Duncan rejected the defendant's self-defence claim that he only pushed Castillo to the ground to get out of a choking headlock during the game on May 9, 2007.
"The defendant intentionally applied force that was outside the rules of the game or any standard by which the game is played," Duncan said. "Manny did not explicitly consent to that force.
"I'm satisfied beyond any doubt no consent can be implied.
"There was no justification in self defence. Accordingly, the defendant committed an assault, an unlawful act. That unlawful act caused death. The defendant is therefore guilty of manslaughter."
Defence lawyers Lisa White and Calvin Barry had suggested Castillo knew he was playing in a physical game and that he accepted the dangers of the contact sport when he entered the field to play for his Lorne Park team that tragic day.
But Duncan rejected her assertion.
He described what the defendant did as being a "sucker tackle" and said at its "highest" it was done out of retaliation, not self defence.
Castillo died from a serious head injury a few days after the incident.
Crown prosecutor John Raftery said during the two-week trial that the accused, a major junior player with an Ontario Hockey League team, committed manslaughter when he lifted Castillo into the air, his feet facing upwards, and drove him head first into the ground.
For now, the identity of the accused is protected by Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The Crown has said it intends to seek an adult sentence, opening the door to his name being published.
Raftery insisted in his closing remarks that the deadly move was separate and away from the normal play on the field and the ball was nowhere near them.
Following the critical play, Castillo lay motionless, and was dying from severe head and spinal cord injuries.
During the trial, various witnesses – including players, coaches, the referee, parents and rugby experts – gave conflicting accounts of what they saw.
Some said they saw Castillo put the defendant into a headlock and others didn't. Some said the play had already stopped at the time and others didn't. Some witnesses saw Castillo driven to the ground, others said they say him fall gently over the shoulder of the accused.
As for the convicted teen, he testified that he fell on top of Castillo when he wrestled his way out of a headlock. He said he had panicked because he couldn't breathe and denied intentionally hurting the opposing player. He said he was unaware Castillo was injured when they both fell to the ground.
Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star, May 11, 2009
Accused denies trying to hurt Manny Castillo
Toronto Star, May 12, 2009
Manny Castillo had accused in headlock, manslaughter trial told
Toronto Sun, May 26, 2009
Tackle - or manslaughter?
Red Terror blog, Friday, May 11, 2007
Toronto teen near death during rugby game
Red Terror blog, Saturday, May 12, 2007
Update: Toronto rugby teen dies
Red Terror blog, Monday, May 14, 2007
Manny Castillo update
Red Terror blog, Tuesday, May 15, 2007
More Manny fall-out
Red Terror blog, Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Concussion rumour added to Castillo tragedy
Red Terror blog, Saturday, May 19, 2007
Red Terror blog, Thursday, May 24, 2007
More Manny Castillo exploitation and disinformation
The difficulty is that even the actual witnesses are in direct conflict about what they saw. All this is compounded by there not being a videotape of the incident, simply conflicting eyewitness testimony.
It probably didn't help that the offender unloaded swearing at the referee, which is sadly not uncommon in North American sporting culture, with rugby being a polite exception.
I don't want to open a can o' worms, but again, my first reaction sizing up the story two years ago was remembering the inflamed emotions and charges stemming from the Tana/Kev/BOD "He could have died" so-called "spear-tackle" controversy.
What if there had never been video evidence of that incident? What if the only witnesses we had were reports in UK newspapers?
There was of course videotape of that "off the ball" cleanout, and yet opinions about "intent" and "assault" and "thuggery" were still starkly divided.
Two different people could watch that tape over-and-over and come to two different conclusions. I can look at the tape and believe, unfortunate, yes, but deliberate assault? I don't buy that. It's rugby, a game that involves hard physical contact and risk.
Whereas this Canadian judge Duncan could have sight-unseen listened to BOD's version of events and reached the same judgment that the "defendants intentionally applied force that was outside the rules of the game or any standard by which the game is played," .... "BOD did not explicitly consent to that force (and he could have died!)."
The fact that a kid actually did die only compounds the emotions.