Volume 92, Issue 24

Friday, October 16, 1998

arresting developments


Football player charged for prank

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY FROM THE LAW. Mustang wide receiver Preston Haynes [17] was charged yesterday with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failure to stop at the scene of an accident.

By Sabrina Carinci and Ian Ross

Gazette Staff

Twelve days after an engineering student was hit in the parking lot of J.W. Little Stadium, a charge has been laid on the alleged driver of the infamous white vehicle.

Preston Haynes, a first-year student at Western and a wide receiver for the no. 1 ranked Mustang football team, walked into the headquarters of the London police with his lawyer shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday evening, said Sgt. Dan Johnston of the London police.

Haynes was then immediately charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and with failure to stop at the scene of an accident. He could face a maximum 10-year sentence if he is found guilty.

The charges stem from an incident which took place shortly after midnight Oct. 2 – one day before Western's Homecoming match-up with Waterloo. In the incident, first-year engineering student Ian Munroe broke his leg after being hit by a white vehicle while attempting to paint "ENG 02" on the football field.

Johnston said that although Preston walked into the station, it does not necessarily mean he is guilty. "That will be for a judge to decide," he said.

Murray Neilson, Haynes' lawyer, refused to comment other than to say Haynes is innocent. "My client is not guilty and we will be vigorously defending the accusations brought up in court."

Western's VP-administration, Peter Mercer, said he was no more shocked to hear that a Western student had been charged with a criminal offence than he was to hear that a Western student had been hit by a car.

"I think we've been the focus of attention because of the criminal charges – it's unusual," he said.

When asked if Haynes would be punished by the university in any way if found guilty, Mercer said he was unable to comment. "The university does have a public responsibility to protect both the property and people – the criminal charges are just that. We have to be sure we don't jump to conclusions," he said.

Mercer pointed out there is no natural relationship between the alleged hit and run and Haynes' education. "He didn't get caught for plagiarizing," he said.

Chris Brown, the first-year engineering student who was with Munroe and was narrowly missed by the car, said he is disappointed Haynes was only charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm. "We could have been killed," he said.

Brown said he was not surprised to hear the suspect charged is a football player. "If you were there, you were either an engineer or a football player – I pretty much guessed."

Craig Higgins, captain of the Mustang football team, said he was unaware Haynes had been charged and was unsure how it might effect the team as a whole.

He said although some members of the football team had been in trouble with the law before, the incidences were not related to the team as a whole.

Although reluctant to comment, Larry Haylor, head coach of the Mustangs, said the team will stick behind its player. "Preston is still a member of this team and the team will be supporting him."

Aaron Sussex, the Mustangs' centre, also reinforced support for Haynes from the team. "We feel for Pres. We're behind him," he said.

Mercer hopes this incident remains an isolated one and no tensions will arise between engineers and football players as a result.

"Two members of our community are in a difficult situation. One with a broken leg and one with criminal charges. None of us are happy about that," Mercer said.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998