Footballer avoids jail for assault on referee

A FOOTBALL referee suffered a fractured cheekbone and nose after being punched repeatedly by a player he had given a red card during a five-a-side match.

Robert Ingham had to undergo surgery to have metal plates fitted to his face after Stephen Roberts’s attack at the John Charles sports centre in Leeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday Roberts, only on his fourth outing for the team, had to be dragged away by other players after leaving the official covered in blood.

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He was given a suspended prison sentence, ordered to pay Mr Ingham £2,000 compensation and attend an anger management course after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, told Roberts: “You, by your actions, bring shame on the name of sport.

“You are not sportsman. You are a thug who lost his temper and assaulted a man – a hard working man – and caused him injuries that have left him vulnerable, unable to sleep and emotionally affected. It was absolutely disgusting behaviour.”

The incident happened after Mr Ingham blew his whistle and gave a foul when Roberts tackled an opponent on August 23 last year.

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A player on the opposing team said Roberts used a clenched fist to aim at least three “big swings” at Mr Ingham, whose glasses were knocked off.

Lorry driver Mr Ingham was unable to return to work for more than a month. having suffered fractures to his cheek bone, eye socket and nose.

Philip Adams, prosecuting, said he had been badly affected and had trouble sleeping.

Roberts, of St Luke’s Road, Beeston, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and made the subject of a curfew, between the hours of 7pm and 7am, for six months. He will also have to attend a 30-day programme which will include anger management.

Stuart Field, mitigating, said he’d acted out of character, had no previous convictions and was ashamed of his behaviour.

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