A review of the issue of assault, and the previous convictions of Shawcross
By The Law
Back when I was a Law Student, we were taught an interesting rule in Criminal Law, called The Eggshell Skull Rule. This rule stated that if you struck someone on the head which resulted in a shattered skull and death because your victim had a skull as thin as an eggshell, then you would be liable for the death, and you could not use as your defence that had your victim possessed a normal skull, he would not have died.
Whether you intended to cause such damage or not is similarly irrelevant. You take your victims as you find them. We were also to find out that the same rule applied in Tort.
In the wake of Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Aaron Ramsey which broke the young Welshman’s leg, we have heard it all. Ryan’s a nice lad, his mum took him home, he’s not that type of player, the challenge was mistimed, he didn’t mean it, Arsenal players are brittle, and Arsene Wenger shouldn’t have brought boys into a man’s game.
All of these arguments would hold absolutely no water if the tackle and resultant injury were the subject of litigation. Courts have proven time and time again that they are uninterested in the intended consequences of the wrongdoer’s act.
You cannot stand up in court to say, “I didn’t mean it, guv. I only wanted to give him a headache, honest” and be sent home. If Aaron sued Ryan for assault, Ryan’s lawyers would not be allowed to lead any evidence to demonstrate that if he’d (for instance) kicked Didier Drogba that way, there would have been no broken bones. You take your victims as you find them.
Similarly, if Arsenal sued Stoke, Stoke’s lawyers cannot tell the court that Arsenal brought boys to a man’s game, and Stoke are therefore not liable. If Stoke realised they were playing boys, they were therefore required to take reasonable care not to cause them harm. Their failure to do so was reckless, at best.
The flippancy displayed by commentators on this issue, some even going so far as to declare that Wenger is making “unsubstantiated claims” about the mindset of opposition players and managers is both shocking and unsurprising.
When Ricardo Fuller declared that Stoke would copy those teams which have tried to bully Arsenal, when managers declare that they have to get in Arsenal’s faces, and when the media reports that Arsenal don’t like the rough stuff, well, any proof you seek is before your eyes. If you are bothered to seek it, which the media are, in general, not bothered to do.
As for Ryan Shawcross, he does have priors. He smashed Francis Jeffers’ ankle back when he was a lower division player with Stoke, and the Assistant Manager declared “Ryan’s not that sort of lad” and “This (the broken ankle suffered by his victim) won’t affect him at all.”
Ryan subsequently went on to tackle Adebayor while the latter was off the field, receiving no sanction for his attack, with the commentator remarking “Ryan’s no respecter of reputations.” What the heck did reputations have to do with tackling a player who wasn’t even on the field?
It is equally clear that the Assistant Manager was right about a broken ankle not affecting Shawcross. If it had, you’d have seen a much more restrained and controlled player. And if breaking a fellow professional’s leg doesn’t affect you at all, then you must be a psychopath of some kind. Clearly, his trainers and manager didn’t tell him that breaking someone’s leg was not part of football. For certain, accidents occur, but that is why they are accidents – they’re not supposed to happen very often.
Unsurprisingly, this time, we were told “Ryan is distraught.” Stoke must have sent Tony Pulis for sensitivity training then. Not that we give tuppence for it.
THE SHAWCROSS DIARIES…
It is time for a thorough investigation of all that is wrong with football
Tony Attwood immediately after the end of the Stoke game
Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money
Why Stoke type thuggery is not allowed in Spain and Italy
Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views
ARSENAL IN THE PAST…
The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)
Charlie Buchan’s first appearance for Arsenal.
ARSENAL IN THE FUTURE
Predictions for the rest of the season: the start of the new golden era.
The manager’s resigned, the league’s ending… Where next for Arsenal?
Wellington Silva is the future of Arsenal
THE INSANITY FILES
The sound of a billion fans saying “Oh bugger” as football destroys itself is copyright © Untold Arsenal 2010.