Metal Hammer (UK)

Randy Blythe is acquitted (march 2013)

It was the court case that had the metal world talking, centred around the tragic death of one concert goer minds that he was guilty before it went to trial?


When Randy Blythe was arrested at Prague airport on June 27, 2012, it set in motion one of the most high-profile trials of the decade. The Lamb Of God frontman was accused of the manslaught­er of 19-year-old fan Daniel Nosek after allegedly pushing him offstage at a gig in 2010, and faced up to 10 years in prison. Randy denied the charges, though he returned to the Czech Republic in February 2013 to stand trial. Prague-based journalist Jonathan Crane reported on proceeding­s as they happened for English-language newspaper The Prague Post.

When did you become aware of the story?

Jonathan: “I can’t claim to be a heavy metal aficionado. A guy I knew from Paris who had a music blog tipped me off, and our design editor at the newspaper may have heard something about it. As soon as it happened, I Googled the band and managed to find a number for their manager, Larry Mazer. Larry filled me in using some very choice language – I think ‘crock of shit’ was one. It was that start of a relationsh­ip with him, in the sense that he was keen to know what was being said in the Czech media.”

Did it feel like the Czech media were gunning for Randy?

“I wouldn’t have said it was a huge story, but it was big in that an American singer had been arrested in Prague, so there was attention on that.

There’s one main Czech tabloid, Blesk, and they were trying to dig for dirt. They picked up on this aggressive onstage persona, they tried to pick up on stuff about his past with drugs and alcohol. There were local heavy metal websites that reported people who were at the gig saying he was doing X, Y and Z, feeding into this perception that he was aggressive and out of control.”

Was there a sense that the authoritie­s had made up their

“No, I think they were willing to give him a fair trial. It probably helped that he handled himself really well – he came back to face trial when could have left and never come back, he was very respectful. He said in court that he never wanted any of this to happen.”

You were there for the verdict, when Randy was acquitted. What was that like?

“His parents were in the public gallery. They had no idea what was going on – they didn’t have a translator, and the lead judge was reading everything out in Czech and really taking his time. When the verdict was read out, Randy just gave a little thumbs up sign to them to let them know he’s OK. There was no jumping or cheering. Daniel’s parents were in tears.”

Did you speak to Randy afterwards?

“We had a walk around for half an hour and chatted, all off the record. We talked about doing the story, but he decided to write his book and tell his story in his own words. I’ve a lot of respect for the way he went back to face the charges and give the family some closure.”

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