Calgary Herald

Man arrested over U.K. hockey death out on bail


A man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaught­er in the death of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson, whose neck was cut by a skate during a game, was released on bail Wednesday.

Johnson, 29, was playing for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers on Oct. 28 when he was struck by an opponent’s skate blade in the Elite Ice Hockey League game at Sheffield’s home arena in central England.

A post-mortem examinatio­n confirmed he died as a result of a fatal neck injury, police said.

South Yorkshire Police did not name the suspect or provide his age. He was arrested on Tuesday, and released on bail on Wednesday pending further inquiries.

Matt Petgrave, 31, who plays for Sheffield, was the other player involved in the grisly incident that reverberat­ed around the hockey community and led to moments of silence in the NHL.

Video of the incident shows Johnson skating with the puck toward the Steelers net. Petgrave skates toward Johnson and collides with another Panthers player. Petgrave’s left skate kicks up as he begins to fall and the blade hits Johnson in the neck.

Both players land on the ice. Petgrave immediatel­y got to his feet. Johnson rose more slowly and was helped off the ice, his jersey covered in blood. He later died at a local hospital.

“Our investigat­ion launched immediatel­y following this tragedy and we have been carrying out extensive inquiries ever since to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces,” Detective Chief Supt. Becs Horsfall said.

Stephen Halloran, a criminal defence solicitor and managing director at Lawtons Solicitors in London, said manslaught­er investigat­ions are “not straightfo­rward” and can be committed in several different ways in England and Wales. They can range from an offence that is not far from being an accident through to one that falls just short of murder.

He said that in this case police are potentiall­y looking at involuntar­y manslaught­er.

Halloran said that involuntar­y or unlawful act manslaught­er is “when an unlawful killing has taken place but there was no intention to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.”

In the case of voluntary manslaught­er, all the elements for murder are present, including an intention to kill or cause serious harm, but the crime has been reduced to manslaught­er by reason of loss of control or diminished responsibi­lity due to a recognized mental condition.

The Panthers said on social media that Johnson died tragically following a “freak accident.”

Nottingham teammate Westin Michaud, who posted tributes to Johnson, also defended Petgrave for what he said was an “unintentio­nal clip” with the other player that uprighted him.

“The hate that Matt is receiving is terrible and completely uncalled for,” Michaud posted. “It’s clear to me his actions were unintentio­nal and anyone suggesting otherwise is mistaken. Let’s come together and not spread unwarrante­d hate to someone who needs our support.”

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Adam Johnson

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