Sometimes fans go too farMike Ulmer examines a story where a man took the Ticats-Argos rivalry to a bad place
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun
Hamilton, my adopted hometown, has a lengthy enough history of crime stories in which body parts, or even the whole body, go missing.
And while Hamiltonians revel in their city's rough and tumble history, it should be pointed out that only an infinitesimally small percentage of this city's population uses "The" as a middle name.
Still, every town has its miscreants. And so as Hamiltonians head to Ivor Wynne for the Labour Day tilt Monday between the Tiger-Cats and the Argonauts, they will do so without a member of the choir.
There are more than 30 million people in this country, most of whom are within spitting distance of the local CFL team. Only one man is prohibited from going to a CFL game. Naturally enough, he's from Hamilton.
His name is Christopher Stevenson. He's 28 years old, 6-foot-3, just under 300 pounds. Stevenson is sitting this one out, because after the last football game he attended, the 2002 Labour Day Classic, he attacked an Argonauts fan named John Reeves outside Ivor Wynne Stadium and bit off a piece of his right ear.
That's aggravated assault, maiming.
"He and his family are embarrassed by the incident," his lawyer, Tony McCusker, said yesterday in explaining why Stevenson isn't talking.
A Hamilton jury took two hours to convict Stevenson on Aug. 17. He'll be sentenced Oct. 8 and, until then, the terms of his bail still apply: No booze and stay away from Canadian Football League games.
This is harder now than last year since, with a win Monday, the Ticats (5-5) could draw even with the second-place Argos in the CFL East. Still, you figure the threat of a six-month jail sentence and $2,000 fine for breach of recognizance ought to do the trick.
The victim in all this is Reeves, a 26-year-old from Whitby, who likes to wear an Argos jersey and a bright blue wig to games but otherwise has committed no crime.
Reeves was at a concession stand when Stevenson claimed he bumped into him and spilled his beer. Reeves apologized and said he didn't want trouble. Stevenson did, but security threw him out of the park.
Unfortunately for Reeves, Stevenson ran into him outside the game, put him in a bear hug and bit off the top of his right ear.
Witnesses said Stevenson threw up his arms and proclaimed "I bit his f------ ear off." A passerby (even in Hamilton, it gets your attention when a fan bites another fan's ear off) watched Stevenson go into a nearby house. Cops were called.
Stevenson -- and I do not make this up -- pleaded innocent and said although he had, in fact, acted like an imbecile in the stadium, it was a drunken friend who actually bit off poor John Reeves' ear. The friend said he was too plastered to remember. Unaccountably, the jury believed eyewitnesses as well as Reeves, who it seems to me, probably would have noticed.
It will be up to Reeves to deliver a victim impact statement and say how he has been getting along without the top of his ear. That will probably go a long way in determining what happens to Stevenson.
Meanwhile, Ivor Wynne Stadium is the only place in the country John Reeves can be assured of not running into Chris Stevenson. I'm betting you will find Reeves there on Monday. He said at the trial that he would like to attend "but only if my wife lets me go."
In that case, maybe not.