A FOOTBALLER has had to give up playing professionally after being attacked by Stratford Town players after a match.
Stratford Town striker Anthony Robinson and defenders Loyiso Recci and Melvin Gourlay had denied inflicting grievous bodily harm on Richard Kear – who suffered a fractured cheekbone – who at the time played for Hereford-based Westfields FC.
But on the day of their trial they pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of affray, which was accepted by prosecutor Rupert Jones.
Following an adjournment for pre-sentence reports to be prepared on them Robinson, 35, of Upper Highgate Street, Deritend, Birmingham, and Recci, 24, of Piccadilly Close, Chelmsley Wood, were both sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
Gourlay, 32, of Palace Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham, who did not use any actual violence, was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work under a 12-month community sentence.
But in addition Judge Alan Parker ordered the three to pay £400 costs and £746 compensation each to Mr Kear.
Mr Jones said in April 2013 Mr Kear was a striker with Westfields FC who had an evening fixture away to Stratford Town, for which all three defendants played at the time.
Stratford had just become Midland Alliance champions, but Westfields also had a chance to gain promotion, ‘so it was a competitive game.’
As the players left the pitch at half-time there was an incident in the tunnel when Robinson headbutted Mr Kear.
It was seen by match officials, and as a result Robinson was sent off.
Westfields won 2-0, helped by an own goal from Gourlay, and afterwards the two teams congregated in the clubhouse.
At 10pm some of the Westfields players including Mr Kear decided to leave and went to the car park where he was approached by Recci who, ‘completely unprovoked,’ punched him to his face.
That led to a scuffle before Recci ran back inside and shouted to his team-mates to come outside, and several did so, including the other two defendants.
Recci threw a punch at Mr Kear, and then Robinson punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Following the attack Mr Kear was helped up by his team-mates before being taken by ambulance to hospital where he was found to have a compound fracture to his cheekbone and underwent an operation to have titanium plate inserted to repair the damage.
Mr Jones pointed out that as a result of his injury Mr Kear says he ‘has been forced to drop levels and drop from earning a good living to having to play for free.’
He was in hospital for almost a week, and part of his face remains numb and causes trouble with his speech.
Mr Jones added Recci was subject to a suspended sentence for an offence of burglary at the time, but had since been ordered to serve part of that after being convicted of an affray in 2013.
Robinson had convictions for 15 offences including assault, common assault and assaulting a police officer, for which he was given a two-month suspended sentence last year.
But Gourlay’s only conviction was for failing to prove a breath test.
Kevin Grego, for Robinson, said it could not be said who was responsible for the punch which caused the injury.
Jabeen Akhtar, for Recci, said he would not argue agains a suspended sentence.
Emma Nott, for Gourlay, said he had not thrown a punch.
“There was a confrontation outside the clubhouse which originally involved Mr Recci and Mr Kear. Mr Recci struck Mr Kear who was struck by two other people including Mr Robinson.”
Judge Parker interjected that he intended to give both Recci and Robinson suspended sentences, which Mr Grego and
Sentencing the three, Judge Parker told them: “This was a shameful performance. You brought nothing but discredit on yourselves, the game of football and the club you played for.
“I don’t suppose you’re thoroughly ashamed of yourselves, but you ought to be.
“If this had been before the court a year ago certainly Mr Recci and Mr Robinson would have gone to prison; but there has been an unreasonable delay, and to think about sending you to prison now, after two years, would be counterproductive.”
The court heard that Birmingham County FA was to consider what action to take against the three once they knew the outcome of the court case.