5 Grim Cases of Manslaughter in the Sporting Arena

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Sport is wonderful, isn't it? But sometimes people get injured and, even worse, lose their lives in sport. And on rare occasions, there's manslaughter at play. We look at 5 examples of manslaughter in the sporting arena.


The world of sport is often punctuated by phrases such as ‘a good sport’ or ‘sporting chance’, giving a sense of fairness and good will. However, the world of competitive sports often has a dark underbelly.

From a very young age, athletes train and prepare in a bid to be the best at their chosen sport – but nothing halts a career in its tracks quicker than being accused of manslaughter. In this article, we’re shining the spotlight on five professional athletes who were charged with this crime.

What is Manslaughter Defined?

The legal definition of manslaughter in the UK is “the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or in circumstances not amounting to murder”.

In plain speak, this means that, although you are responsible for a loss of life, you didn’t set out or plan to do so. An example of manslaughter may be causing a death by dangerous driving or failing to put adequate safety measures in place as an employer.

Depending on the circumstances, a charge of manslaughter can result in a number of different sentences, including life imprisonment.

Cases of Manslaughter in the Sporting Arena

Professional athletes are often rich, famous and seemingly have it all – but a surprising number have a self-destructive streak and some even become the victim or perpetrator of manslaughter. In this section, we’re taking a look at some of these:

  1. Jayson Williams

Fans of NBA will be familiar with the name Jayson Williams, an All Star player with the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, Williams is now more famous for committing the crime of manslaughter.

In 2001, after a night of drinking, Williams fatally shot Costas Cristofi, his limousine driver inside his (Jayson’s) home. The star first told police that the driver had shot himself before then claiming that the weapon had discharged accidentally while he was showing it off to his friends.

Although he was charged with reckless manslaughter, Williams was eventually found guilty of the less serious crime of aggravated assault, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. Following his release in 2012, Williams forged a new career as an NBA analyst and inspirational speaker.

  1. Adam Johnson

ice hockey arena

On the 28th of October 2023, tragedy struck at the Sheffield Home Arena when ice hockey player, Adam Johnson died at the age of 29 following an incident during a game between the Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers.

During the incident, the Nottingham Panthers player suffered a neck wound caused by the blade of another player’s skate. Subsequently, a man who is yet to be named was arrested on a charge of manslaughter.

The police department in Sheffield have released little information other than a statement saying “We have been speaking to highly specialised experts in their field to assist in our enquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation”.

  1. Marcos Alonso

We all know the dangers of driving while under the influence and in some cases, such as that of Premier League footballer, Marcos Alonso, the consequences can, unfortunately, be deadly.

In 2011, the Chelsea full-back was arrested for manslaughter after causing the death of his 22 year old female passenger after driving at over 122 km per hour in a 50km zone while drunk (tests showed that he was nearly three times over the legal limit).

The Spaniard was originally sentenced to four years in prison which was subsequently reduced to 21 months. Astonishingly, the sentence was then dropped altogether after Alonso agreed to pay the victim’s family the sum of 500,000 Euros out of court. Following the conclusion of the case, Alonso returned to professional football.

  1. Christophe Fauviau

All sports – including tennis – are notoriously competitive, and many people will go to extremes to win but the case of Christophe Fauviau is most certainly a cautionary tale.

In 2006, French national, Christophe Favuviau, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of the manslaughter of one of his daughter’s tennis rivals. The court heard that Fauviau spiked the drinks of a number of tennis players in a bid to give his daughter an advantage.

Unfortunately, one of his victims subsequently died after losing control of his car on the way home from a match. Although Fauviau initially faced a 20 year sentence, this was reduced to a maximum of 10 years when the advocate general stated that the man had not “sought to kill or injure” the players.

  1. Brandon Sillence

In 2021, professional boxer, Brandon Sillence, (then 25) was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter after killing a man in a fight. 20 year old Dean Skillin died from a single punch after getting into an altercation with the boxer.

Shockingly, following Dean’s death, Sillence was heard boasting about the incident, stating, “It was just boom, boom”.

Manslaughter cases in the sporting arena…

Although manslaughter cases are thankfully rare in the sporting arena, it seems that crime and sports often go hand in hand with many reported cases of assault and sexual assault among top athletes.

Some feel that fame and wealth make some of these athletes feel untouchable however, as we’ve seen in this article, this is certainly not always the case.


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