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Published on February 25th, 2014 | by Jessica Murray

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Neknominators could face manslaughter charges

Young man sits with pint of beer and shot of tequila

Legal sanctions against nominators mooted following the third recorded death in Britain. [Clelia Carbonari]

Those who set their friends Neknominate challenges could face manslaughter charges if that person dies, lawyers have warned.

The spectre of charges came after 20 year old Bradley Eames became the third British victim to die from the viral drinking game, after consuming almost two pints of gin in only minutes. The drinking craze is also thought to have been behind the deaths of two men in Ireland.

Lawyer Julian Young said that manslaughter charges could be considered if the nominator knew there could be a risk prior to nominating others.

“If a person knew, because of all the publicity, and said, ‘I have been watching it on the news, I nominated my mate and thought he would be all right but knew there was a risk,’ you could have grounds for a prosecution. It might be manslaughter,” Young told the Daily Mail.

Melissa Man, an FdA Art and Design student at CSM, commented: “I think that things similar to Neknominate have always been happening at parties, and young people always try to impress their friends. The only difference now is that it is on social media.”

“I do not think that the manslaughter charges are the correct way to go as no one directly caused their nominee’s death and they weren’t forced to take part,” she added.

Extreme

Eleanor Tanner, a King’s College law student who previously took part in Neknominate, thinks that a manslaughter charge is a rather extreme consequence. Tanner believes the underlying problem is not the game in itself, but the relationship people have with alcohol.

She told Arts London News: “I think people are blaming the wrong thing. It’s not the game that is the problem but the driving culture we have. If people play it responsibly there wouldn’t be a problem. Manslaughter is too far because then where do we draw the line? Could buying someone a pint lead to a manslaughter charge because you encouraged drinking?”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) – which has found that accidental alcohol poisoning resulting in death has increased by more than 20 per cent in England and Wales in the last ten years – has further warned that this percentage is likely to increase further with social media drinking game crazes such as Neknominate.

Tanner concluded: “If you can’t convict people [for manslaughter] from supplying drugs when drugs are illegal, I think it’s completely irrational to prosecute someone for peer pressuring someone to do something legal but they took it too far. My opinion is that the problem isn’t the game, it’s the people who play it.”

 

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