Skip to main content

'It was a really fluke, tragic situation': Guelph man found not guilty of manslaughter after tragic neighbour dispute


A Guelph man has been found not guilty of manslaughter after an argument led to the death of his neighbour in July 2020.

Justice Gordon Lemon’s written decision found that Paul Hanlon acted in self-defence when a verbal dispute over a dog peeing on the lawn turned physical.

Judge Lemon’s written ruling stated that Hanlon, 43-years-old at the time, and 59-year-old Alex Campagnaro were neighbours for almost 20 years until a dispute led to the death of Campagnaro about two and a half years ago.

Hanlon was on trial for manslaughter in November 2022. The not guilty verdict was handed down in a Guelph courtroom on Jan. 4.

Brennan Smart, Hanlon’s lawyer explained the sequence of events that occurred during Hanlon’s testimony.

Smart said the wives of the two neighbours had a verbal dispute over their dogs the day before Campagnaro’s death. Hanlon’s dog is a boxer and Campagnaro’s is a smaller breed, said to be unleashed, according to the court documents.

“Mrs. Moffit-Campagnaro took her dog out for a walk. Before she could leash the dog, it ran across the yard and urinated on the Hanlons’ front lawn,” said Lemon’s written decision.

Smart said on the following day, Hanlon went to Campagnaro’s garage to try and work things out.

“It’s unfortunate because these people had been neighbours for 18 years and never had any disruptions or disputes,” Smart told CTV News in a virtual interview.

The judge’s decision said that a neighbour testified to having overheard the two men speaking loudly and “they were angry.”

Judge Lemon’s ruling said that Campagnaro came at Hanlon and threatened the use of a weapon found on the scene, so Hanlon punched Campagnaro once. But that one punch burst an artery and led to Campagnaro’s death.

“It was a really fluke, tragic situation,” said Smart. “It was not his intent to even lay hands on Mr. Campagnaro let alone cause Mr. Campagnaro to die.”

Smart said Hanlon believed Campagnaro was reaching for what looked like a gun, claiming Hanlon’s punch was an act of self-defence.

“He was reaching for what turned out to be a pellet gun, but even to the police when they arrived they believed it could’ve been a real firearm. It was a mock of a Glock gun,” said Smart.

Smart noted that Hanlon stuck around after the punch and tried to help his neighbour.

“He provided first aid to Mr. Campagnaro because he’s been trained in first aid,” said Smart.

The judge's decision also referred to a character witness who described Hanlon as level-headed and calm prior to this incident.

“Mr. Hanlon testified that he’s never hit anybody in his life,” Smart said.

Judge Lemon said Hanlon was acting in lawful self-defence.

“I do not accept the Crown’s theory that Mr. Hanlon was angry and attempting some sort of vengeance upon Mr. Campagnaro. That sort of conduct was contrary to both the Crown and defence evidence of Mr. Hanlon’s behaviour,” said Lemon in his written decision.

CTV News was on scene the day after the incident in 2020.

Guelph police told CTV News at the time, that police were called to the home on Beattie Street at around 8 p.m. after reports of a disturbance. Officers said they found two men in the garage. One was taken to hospital, and the other was arrested for aggravated assault.

Smart said Hanlon moved shortly after the incident but has been waiting for the verdict before purchasing a new home. Top Stories

Stay Connected