Was the band’s lead singer too heavy-handed with fans?
No-one goes to a metal gig to sit quietly in their seat, tapping their feet. They go to mosh, to crowd surf, to stage dive, as the din of music blasts in their ears. And the night of 24 May 2010 was no different.
Daniel Nosek, 19, had gone along to Prague’s Abaton Club to watch the American heavy metal band Lamb of God.
As the music blasted out, fans tried to storm the stage. Daniel was one of them.
The stage, at just over 3ft high, with no barriers, can’t have been too difficult to reach. But the band didn’t want people on-stage. Fearing for everyone’s safety, they pushed them back.
Daniel tried again. But, next thing, he was falling towards the concrete floor below, hitting his head.
After leaving the gig with friends, Daniel complained of a headache, and started being sick.
At hospital, he was rushed in for emergency surgery to reduce the swelling on his brain. But it was no good. The teenager slipped into a coma, and died 14 days later.
While Daniel’s family were undoubtedly trying to come to terms with their grief, Lamb of God were oblivious to their poor fan’s fate. But then, on 27 June 2012, they flew into Prague to play a gig.
Suddenly, armed police stopped them.
The band’s vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested in connection with Daniel’s death.
Blythe denied it, saying he didn’t recall the incident.
After three nights in a cell, he was moved to prison, where he remained for five weeks before being charged with manslaughter, facing five to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Finally, on 3 August, Blythe was released on bail.
He issued a defiant statement, saying, If it is deemed necessary for me to do so, I will return to Prague to stand trial. While I maintain my innocence 100 per cent, and will do so steadfastly, I will not hide in the United States, safe from extradition and possible prosecution.
In February 2013, Blythe was back in Prague, on trial for manslaughter.
Dressed in a suit, with his hair cut short, Randy Blythe, 41, was accused of pushing Daniel Nosek, 19, off the stage that fateful night in 2010.
The court heard he pushed Daniel so viciously that he fell and hit his head, causing the brain haemorrhage that later killed him.
The case wasn’t clear-cut, though. Reports suggested it was the show’s security lapses that’d allowed fans to get on the stage. There was also conflicting evidence about whether or not anyone saw Blythe actually push Daniel, and how he fell.
There are no jury trials in the Czech Republic, so, on the opening day, Blythe gave his statement to three judges through a translator.
‘The death of a fan is heartbreaking,’ he said. ‘I’m not a man who runs from his problems, but I do not wish to be punished and suffer the consequences of an act I did not commit.’
Blythe criticised the lack of security at the concert, saying there was no metal barrier to stop fans climbing onto the stage. He admitted forcing one man – Milan Poradek – off the stage. But the gig had carried on when the fans gave Blythe the thumbs-up to show he was OK.
As for Daniel? Blythe insisted he ‘never saw’ or ‘came into contact’ with him.
Both Blythe’s bandmate and his manager praised him, describing him as quiet and well-read.
Eight people who were at the concert gave evidence, too. Milan Poradek was one of them. He admitted being ‘pretty drunk’, and recognised he was causing problems.
He said Blythe pulled him down to the floor to make it clear he didn’t want him on stage. Crucially, he said Blythe didn’t punch, strangle or choke him, as some witnesses claimed.
Daniel’s friends, on the other hand, said Blythe had pushed their friend off the stage.
However, their accounts varied slightly.
Some claimed ‘several incidents’ happened in the first half, while Blythe argued that the video evidence showed otherwise.
Another witness said Blythe made it clear he didn’t want anybody on-stage, and that pushing people off was ‘normal for a heavy metal concert’.
Then an expert for the defence refuted claims by a criminal psychologist that Blythe had problems controlling his emotions and didn’t take responsibility for his actions.
He’d been referring to a speeding fine, and to Blythe urinating in public when he was younger.
After closing arguments, Randy Blythe calmly addressed the court, telling them that if he was guilty of any crime, he would have confessed – that his actions were responsible, as he was only protecting himself, the band and their equipment.
He was overcome with emotion as he addressed Daniel’s family, offering sympathy and thanking them for not attacking him in the press.
As well as a criminal prosecution, they were seeking damages equivalent to about £430,000.
So had Randy Blythe been overly aggressive that night? Was he responsible for Daniel Nosek’s death? Or had it simply been an unfortunate accident?
In March 2013, Randy Blythe was found not guilty of contributing to Daniel Nosek’s death, and cleared of all charges.
Please remember the family of Daniel Nosek in your thoughts and prayers, he posted on Instagram. I only wish for them peace.
In June 2013, the verdict was upheld in an appeals court.
Randy Blythe said, ‘A young man who is a fan of my band is dead… That’s the tragedy that occurred. Me going to prison and going through all this is nothing compared to what his family went through.’