Since the creation of social media and internet video sites there have been a number of dangerous video crazes that have resulted in tragedy. The rise of a new game, known as ‘Punch 4 Punch’, is causing increasing concern following the death of a 23 year old father of one.

The game involves two participants, each with one of their hands tied behind their back, whom are filmed (often on mobile phones) taking turns to punch one another. The game finishes when one of the participants withdraws from the game and is often then subjected to a forfeit, normally the fast consumption of an alcoholic beverage. Similarities have been drawn to other dangerous internet crazes such the recent ‘Neck-nominate’ and ‘happy-slapping’.

Tommy Main collapsed following a punch in the chest whilst playing the game with a friend. He was rushed to hospital but sadly died. It has been confirmed that a 20 year old male has been arrested on suspicion of murder and released on police bail until September whilst the police conduct their investigation.

It may come as a surprise to many that the friend who delivered the fatal punch to Mr Main could be charged with manslaughter or murder as a result. It is not likely that this person even considered Mr Main’s death to be a likely outcome of the game, let alone an intended one. There is a rule in law which is often applicable to this type of offence, known as the ‘Egg-Shell Skull Rule’. It was established in by Lord Justice Lawton in the case of R -v- Blaue (1975) 61 Cr App R 271, this case resulted in the defendant being held responsible for his victim’s death despite the fact that she may have survived had she not refused a blood transfusion for religious reasons. Lawton LJ stated that those who commit offences must ‘take their victim as they find them’. The term ‘egg-shell skull’ implies that even if a person had a skull as delicate as an egg shell and another person, unaware of the delicate skull, caused an injury to them which caused their skull to break unexpectedly then the person would be held responsible for all the damage caused by the injury even if this was not the intention. This is now well established through case law across many areas of law.

This type of case was in the media very recently in respect of Lewis Gill, the 21 year old who killed Andrew Young with a single punch following a dispute. Although Lewis Gill did not intend to cause Mr Young’s death, he was found guilty of manslaughter as he punched Mr Young, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on the road surface. Mr Gill was sentenced to four years imprisonment, a sentence that was appealed but found not to be unduly leinent.

Credit will often be given for an early plea and a lesser sentence may be imposed should the defendant be remorseful, of previous good character, and able to prove that the outcome of the offence was not at all intended. This is decided on a case to case basis.

At Farleys we have a specialist team of criminal defence solicitors who can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on all areas of crime. If you have been accused of a crime in any capacity, it is vital that you speak to a criminal defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Early advice is often crucial. For 24 hour advice via our emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.