Video games may have led to throat slash says judge

A row over the violent video game Gears of War 3 led to one player assaulting the other. Picture: Contributed
A row over the violent video game Gears of War 3 led to one player assaulting the other. Picture: Contributed
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A TEENAGER’S addiction to violent video games could have contributed to him slashing a schoolboy’s throat, a judge said yesterday.

Lord Turnbull said he accepted that exposure to violent video games increased the risk of violence on the part of the viewer.

He made the comments as he sentenced an impressionable schoolboy, said to be “addicted” to the Xbox fighting game Gears of War 3, for attempted murder.

The youth was sentenced to three years and nine months.

The youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted attacking his online opponent with a knife when they met face to face.

The High Court at Livingston heard that the pair fell out while battling against each other in the virtual world of the game.

When they met at a friend’s house in Clydebank, an argument erupted over the game.

The accused – then aged just 13 – grabbed his 14-year-old rival by the neck and slashed him across the throat with a knife.

He appeared for sentence yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to attempting to murder the youth by striking him with a knife to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment.

Doctors said the 15cm wound missed the victim’s voicebox, airway and neck arteries by millimetres.

Lili Prais, defending, said the accused was drunk on the day of the offence after taking alcohol for the first time.

She claimed he had become “desensitised through the obsessive use of games” and used violence as a problem-solver.

She said: “He struck his virtual opponent, and in that moment his virtual world became a real world. His immediate reaction was to say, ‘Don’t die’.

“This assault was in no way premeditated or planned.” The boy – who is now 15 and already a father – had a particularly low intellectual ability and had been bullied about his weight.

Passing sentence, Lord Turnbull told the teenager: “I accept that exposure to violent video games increases the risk of violent behaviour on the viewer’s part. Like many other young boys, you had a fascination for violent conduct.

“You decided to indulge that fascination to the extent of carrying a knife with you then you engaged in violent conduct with the knife.

“Whether you would or not have behaved in this fashion had you not spent such time viewing these games is not known.

“However, I’m not persuaded that watching such games – even to the extent of becoming desensitised to violence – should have the effect of mitigating such serious conduct.

“You struck your victim on the neck with such force that his windpipe was exposed and he required very skilled surgical intervention.

“It is little short of a miracle that you’re not now facing a life sentence for murder.”

The judge said the only appropriate method of dealing with the youth was by imposing a custodial sentence.