Friday, 23 August 2013

Thoughts on Nathan Beaulieu's guilty plea to assault charges.

Nathan Beaulieu and his father Jacques plead guilty to assault charges in court on Wednesday August 14, and received conditional discharges from Judge Ontario Court Justice Eleanor Schnall.  Their lawyer is quoted in the London Free Press story as saying the event was "an isolated incident", which may be the case but doesn't make it less troubling.

What is also troubling is the way a lot of Canadiens fans are minimizing the assault.   Generally, I understand the impulse for us to believe in and defend our prospect, but some of us are still describing it as possibly a fracas where Nathan may have been stepping in to "stand up for his dad", or just an old-fashioned fight, an alcohol-aided brawl where boys were being boys.  The Beaulieus were charged just because "they won", it's being surmised, so "we have to wait for the other side of the story".

There is no other side to this story.  When they plead guilty, there had to be an agreement as to the facts of the case.  You're not allowed to plead guilty with your fingers crossed, or with a 'whatever' attitude.  When you plead guilty, the Crown and the Defence Counsel agree to this statement of fact.  The guilty party agrees that what is read out in court as the events, are the events.  That's the story.  That's what happened.  The London Free Press article does a pretty good job of describing what happened.

So we can't dismiss it as nothing more than a beery punchup.  What happened is, one gentlemen is getting assaulted by Jacques and Nathan Beaulieu, and gets punched eight times in the head.  He manages to escape to his truck, locks himself in.  Based on the article, I deduce that he drives away from the scene.  Now, still according to the article, the Beaulieus aren't done, they want to keep hammering at this guy, so they ask the other victim where the pickup truck guy lives, and they beat on him to get the address.  Holy Crap!  That's terrifying behaviour, for both victims.  That's really far down the road to rageaholic behaviour, and thuggery.

We have to be clear about this, the Beaulieus weren't involved in a fight, they committed an assault, they attacked an unwilling party two against one, then attacked another party two against one.  It shouldn't be confused with heroic bar exploits, and incidents of self-defence.  In this instance, the Beaulieus were bullies and jerks, and were judged as such.

Now some of us may be tough guys who've seen it rain, we've taken a few punches and dealt out a few too, and it's no big deal.  Well that's well and good for you, but for most people being in a fight is frightening, it's humiliating, it's stressful.  In this case, one guy has to run away to his truck and barricade himself in, and finds out later that they were beating up the other guy to find out the address to finish what they started.  Where was this going to stop?  At what point were they going to be satisfied?  How much does the victim's imagination race to the worst-case scenario, and how long does it keep him up at night and provide him with nightmares?

Ultimately, no grave injuries were suffered by the victims, no weapons were used, and in terms of the Criminal Justice system this is not a huge deal, so the Beaulieus escape with a conditional discharge.  This is appropriate when you search the web for various sentences handed out for assault in Canada.

Good for them, and I hope they make the best of this chance they get, but this is a huge black mark.  They were drunk, they were idiots and vandals while guests in someone else's house, attacked two other people, and then didn't know when to back off when the fight was clearly over.  They are getting off lightly, and they better make good use of this slap on the wrist, and take steps to deal with this anger-bully tendency they displayed.

Again, this was not a fight, it was an assault that they plead guilty to.  Let's not minimize it because a Canadien is involved.  If Brad Marchand was involved instead of our boy, we'd crucify him.  We can't gloss over the behaviour just because the kid is a Hamilton Bulldog and we pin a lot of hopes on him.

So Nathan pleads guilty and gets a break, a fresh start, let's hope he wises up and that he applies himself, as Walt would say to Jesse.  Nathan had better grow up, and get his temper under control, and learn to respect others and act appropriately when a guest in someone's home.  This is not the first red flag that pops up for him, he needs to bear down, keep his nose clean, work hard, and try to achieve, instead of coasting and expecting good things to happen.

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