Teen in rugby death case stays out of custody
Published Monday, July 6, 2009 5:42PM EDT
An 18-year-old rugby player dodged a custodial sentence after being found guilty of manslaughter in the death of one of his opponents, a crime the judge attributed to "highly competitive instincts."
"He did not set out to commit a crime," Justice Bruce Duncan said Monday during Monday's hearing in a Brampton, Ont. court.
"The tragic consequences went far beyond what could have been expected."
The teen, who cannot be publicly identified because he was a minor at the time of the incident, was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
He has also been ordered to undergo anger management counselling.
"I want to send my condolences to the family," said the young man while looking at victim Manny Castillo's parents. "I never had the chance to do that before. I'm just sorry it happened."
Castillo, a 15-year-old Lorne Park Secondary School student, died in 2007 from a head injury sustained during a high school rugby game.
Court heard that the accused lifted Castillo into the air upside down then drove him head first into the ground. Castillo died a few days later in hospital.
The defence had argued that the accused was simply defending himself because Castillo had put him in a headlock.
Duncan agreed with the Crown that the move was not self-defence but rather happened in the "heat of the moment."
"In some cases, accountability is largely achieved by guilt and this is one of those cases," he added. "I held him accountable when I found him guilty of manslaughter. It recognizes the harm done."
However, Duncan said he had concerns about the youth's "impulsivity and anger."
Earlier Monday, the court heard a victim impact statement from Castillo's father who called his son's death "every parent's worst nightmare."
"The pain and grief has been overwhelming," he said. "Time does not heal all wounds. ... There is no relief in the loneliness we feel. "
Manuel Castillo placed blame on organized hockey and hockey coaches because in that game, players are not reprimanded when they continue to fight after the whistle has blown. He said the rules are different in football and rugby. The accused played both sports.
The father did not comment on the sentence meted out to the young man who killed his son.
"The sentence was a fair one," defence lawyer Calvin Barry told reporters. "At onset, the victim's family didn't want him charged."
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman and files from The Canadian Press