17th Nov, 2019

Footballer jailed after attacking opponent in changing room

A FOOTBALLER has been jailed after attacking an opponent in the changing room.

Thomas Scott, 34, of Bromage Drive, Warwick, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Simon Foster said the incident took place after a Sunday League football match at the Bishops Tachbrook Sports and Social Club ground in September last year.

During the game there was some disagreement on the pitch between Scott, who was playing for VTS Warwick, and Bishops Tachbrook FC player David Bates.

At the end of the game, in which the home team beat the visitors 10-0, the players were on their way to the changing rooms when Mr Bates heard a shout.

He turned and saw Scott, and told him to ‘give it a rest,’ but Scott demanded: “What are you going to do about it?”

One witness said the two men then squared up to each other before Mr Bates head-butted Scott.

Mr Bates then turned away and went into the home changing room where he was followed by Scott who hit him in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the floor.

When he came round there was a pool of blood and he could not see out of his right eye.

Other Bishops Tachbrook players described Scott as ‘almost running into the changing room’ and punching Mr Bates without any warning, then getting on top of him on before being pulled off.

As a result of the attack, Mr Bates had a broken nose and two fractures to his eye socket which have caused permanent damage to his eye and caused him to suffer from blurred vision.

He was off work for some time, which had an impact on his business, with debts building up as a result.

When Scott was arrested he denied there had been any issues between them, but claimed Mr Bates had turned round and headbutted him, so he had punched him in self-defence.

Nick Devine, defending, suggested there had been ‘a degree of provocation.’

He said: “The red mist descended, and it didn’t go away as quickly as it should.  He recognises his behaviour was completely wrong.  He let himself down and he let his team down.”

Jailing Scott, Judge Anthony Potter said: “Sporting contests can raise the hackles, but disputes on the pitch should remain there.

“People are entitled to take part in Sunday football in the knowledge that any dispute and aggravation is left on the pitch, without this kind of incident occurring.

“I have regard to the fact that you are a man with a number of family obligations. You have six children and are a grandfather at the age of 34. But I also note this is the worst possible example to set your children.

“I am afraid I cannot suspend the sentence. The message needs to go out that assaults of this kind at sporting locations are going to be treated in the same way as if you had assaulted someone in the town centre of Leamington.”

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