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Sunday league footballer broke opponent's jaw with single punch

By John Scott | Rugeley | Crime | Published:

A teenage footballer broke an opponent's jaw in two places with a single punch during a Sunday League game, a judge heard.

The attack happened during a Sunday league match

James Baird - 18 at the time but now aged 19 - ran up to 15 yards across the pitch to deliver the blow, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Violence flared in the 28th minute of the Lichfield and District Recreational League game between Phoenix Warriors and Lakeside FC at Wolverhampton United's ground in Prestwood Road West, Wood Hayes on March 25 last year.

The score was 1-1 when 17-year-old Samuel Booth, who had scored the Phoenix Warriors goal, was heavily tackled.

He got to his feet and squared up face to face with the tackler who then grabbed him round the throat, said Mr Patrick Kelly, prosecuting.

Baird thought his team mate, who was a friend of his, had been head butted and ran to punch the other player before running off the pitch pursued as the match was abandoned.

One witness said he was laughing and making gestures with his fingers but this was denied by the defendant.

Police arrived at the scene soon afterwards to launch an investigation into the attack that left the victim with long term facial numbness and feelings of anxiety, added the prosecutor.

Charles Crinion, defending, said: "This was one punch which Baird knew was a hard blow which he should not have delivered but he had no idea the consequences would be so serious.

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"He is thoroughly shocked and ashamed of what he did and has not played football since. It was a complete aberration."

Apprentice scaffolder Baird from Catkin Walk, Rugeley, who was of previous good character, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and was given ten months detention in a Young Offenders Institution suspended for 18 months with 150 hours unpaid work and a three month night time curfew. He was ordered to pay the victim £1,000 compensation.

Judge Dean Kershaw told him: "You punched out while genuinely believing, probably mistakenly, that your friend had been head butted.

"For someone of your age and work ethic, who has never been in trouble before, this has been a lesson from which you learnt and are very unlikely to appear in a court again."

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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