Amateur sports player sentenced

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An amateur rugby league player who punched an opponent in an “off the ball” incident has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Owen Palmer, 21, needed surgery after he was punched in the face by full back Omar Al Rawi, who was playing for the Leeds-based Queens side, during a heated encounter at Keighley’s St John’s Road ground last April.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (Thursday) that the incident happened when other players became involved in a brawl on the pitch. Mr Palmer was stood watching what was going on when Al Rawi, 25, ran towards him.

“The next thing the complainant knew he was punched to the right eye and cheek,” said prosecutor Mr Dave Mackay.

Al Rawi, of Raynel Approach, Leeds, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Palmer and today he was sentenced to 16 months in prison suspended for two years.

The judge said from what he had read about unemployed Al Rawi there was considerable good in him and he had to consider whether sending him to prison immediately for a relatively short sentence would assist anyone.

As part of the suspended sentence Al Rawi will have to do 240 hours unpaid work for the community.