Ramen Noodles Used in Attack
The drama went down in a girl’s washroom in a British Columbia washroom just before Christmas of 2018. Two girls had been embroiled in an ongoing feud and finally came to blows with an unlikely weapon entering the mix – a boiling hot bowl of ramen noodles.
The unlikely bowl of soup was declared a weapon by a provincial court judge after it was found that a 14-yer-old girl threw it on her 15-year old rival.
The accused was charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon as a result of the altercation between friend groups. Like most young people, these friend groups used electronic communication technology and social media to communicate. Unfortunately, these communications used social media to humiliate, intimidate and distress their perceived rivals.
On the date of the incident, the accused and her victim encountered each other in the girl’s bathroom, and exchanged colorful language and insults. Both girls began to film each other hurling insults until, the accused, on camera, threw a boiling hot bowl of ramen soup at the victim causing serious second and third degree burns requiring skin grafts.
In what has become a troubling trend with today’s youth, the school was beset by a spate of “bro fights” leading up to the incident. These are, apparently, consensual friendly fights that are popular on YouTube, almost a juvenile version of Fight Club. The bro fights were cause to fuel ongoing violence within the school and online cyber-bullying.
In an attempt to shut down the bro fights, the school’s administration called a school-wide assembly to deal with the situation. Despite the good intentions, the two rival friend groups at the center of this incident used their time at the assembly to shoot daggers at each other and post insulting comments on social media.
After the assembly, the accused went to the vice-principal’s office to declare that she was going to kick her eventual victim’s ass. The vice principal told the accused the calm down and return to class.
Instead, the accused got a cup of noodles from her locker, filled it with boiling water and went to the girl’s washroom. Shortly thereafter, by happenstance, the victim entered the bathroom and the two began arguing. After multiple insults, including an allegation of getting butt implants, the accused claimed she blacked-out from being triggered and threw the boiling hot soup on the victim.
Is Soup a Weapon?
In assessing the facts of the case, the youth court judge has to consider whether a bowl of hot ramen noodles is a weapon.
Section 2 of the Criminal Code defines “weapon” to include “anything used, designed to be used or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person. In R. v. McLeod, 1993 CanLII 14674 the Yukon Court of Appeal explained the “focus of the definition has been shifted from the character of the instrumentality in question to the result of its use or the purpose for which it was used.” In other words, any object can be a weapon if a person uses it to kill, injure, attack, threaten, or intimidate someone else.
In R. v. Lamy, the Supreme Court clarified the meaning of the word “weapon” and the term “injury” contained in the Criminal Code in the context of a case where the female victim suffered a physical injury in the course of a sexual assault. The Supreme Court held an object constitutes a “weapon” where it contributed to the harm caused to the victim. The object does not have to be designed or intended to injure in order to qualify as a weapon. Justice Arbour stated “… the accused must have knowingly or recklessly used the object without the consent of the victim in circumstances where injury was reasonably foreseeable. …” (para. 16). The word “injury” in the Criminal Code definition of “weapon” is not synonymous with the words “bodily harm.” If an object is used in inflicting injury, be it physical or psychological, in the commission of an assault, it is not necessary that the injury amount to bodily harm to trigger the application of s. 267(1)(a). Moreover, the accused’s subjective intention is irrelevant vis-à-vis the charge of assault with a weapon.
The courts have often found that containers of food or beverages constituted weapons for the purpose of s. 2 of the Criminal Code based on the manner in which they were used or the accused’s intention in using the container. In R. v. Vandergraaf, the accused threw a small bottle of Kraft Peanut Butter toward the ice at a Winnipeg Jets game. In R. v. Brennan, the accused threw a can of Pineapple Crush, which the court accepted could be a weapon.
After reviewing the case law and intention of parliament, the youth court judge concluded that any object can constitute a weapon if it is used to kill, inure, attack, threaten or intimidate another person. In this case, the accused threw the soup on the victim as an attack and the soup was therefore a weapon.
Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no obligation consultation.