Father punched soccer player

A FATHER has been given a suspended prison sentence after he broke the jaw of a man he wrongly believed had headbutted his son during a village football match.

Brian Harper, 40, thought his son had been attacked in the game at Cockfield Village Green so rushed on to the pitch to punch the man he thought was responsible.

But Ipswich Crown Court heard on Thursday that, after ‘squaring up’ to opposing player Gareth Hollands, Mr Harper’s son Tony, had jerked his head back as if head butted and fell to the ground without a single blow being landed.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said other players told police the two men had faced each other with their foreheads touching but Mr Hollands had not struck his opponent.

Mr Hollands, who was playing for AFC Hardwick against the home Cockfield team, told police that he was ‘dumbstruck and shocked’ by the assault on August 8 last year.

The blow had resulted in ‘a hell of a crack’ which other players on the pitch had heard, said Mr Hollands, who had to have his broken jaw repaired with metal plates.

When interviewed, Harper, a father of six, told police that he had thought his son was being attacked and said there had been an element of provocation in what he did.

Harper, of Bradfield St George Road, Bradfield St Clare, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm.

Sentencing him, Judge Nicholas Coleman said: “This was a dreadful act of violence. You broke his jaw with that punch. It must have been a fearful blow.”

Harper was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 280 hours of unpaid community work.

He was also ordered to pay £1,500 compensation to Mr Hollands and £800 prosecution costs. He was also made subject of a six month curfew order.