A FOOTBALLER who punched an opponent from behind - leaving him unconscious with multiple cheek fractures - has been spared prison.
But Vulcan FC player Michael Smith was ordered to pay £2,000 compensation to his victim.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how the 30-year-old, had come on as a substitute in a game against Windle Labour Reserves at Mesnes Park on April 12 last year when he “inexplicably” punched Andrew Jevons.
Kim Egerton, prosecuting, told how Smith swung his right arm up and over - like a right hook - onto the right hand side of his victim’s face.
Mr Jevons fell straight to the ground and was knocked unconscious for 45 seconds.
He was subsequently hospitalised with multiple fractures and an indentation to his right cheek, which required surgery under general anaesthetic.
He later had to go under the knife for a second time after plates inserted into his cheek to repair the damage caused an infection.
Doctors confirmed that the injuries caused were consistent with Mr Jevons having been punched “with considerable force” - an assertion backed up by the referee.
Mr Jevons told police he had been struck as both players moved to challenge for the ball.
In a victim impact statement, he told how he was subsequently forced to take nine weeks off work - causing him to struggle financially - and was worried about his appearance because he was due to get married five months later.
Mr Jevons still can’t lie down on his right hand side because the nerves haven’t gone back to normal. He is now back playing football but is much more wary about it.
He said: “I’m not as passionate about it as I used to be and I’m more reserved in myself. I don’t commit myself as much as I did in the past - especially when it comes to tackling and heading the ball.”
In interview, Smith, a father-of-one from Catherine Way, Newton-le-Willows, said there were two sides to every story and claimed Mr Jevon’s behaviour had been far from perfect.
However he pleaded guilty to GBH before Liverpool Crown Court on March 1 and was sentenced last Friday (March 22).
Robert Jones, defending, said his client was very sorry for what he had done and wanted to make amends.
He told how Smith’s partner was dependent on him financially and how his actions had been “entirely out of character”. Judge Stephen Clarke described Smith’s actions as “a rush of blood to the head”.
He said: “It’s inexplicable why you lost control. You threw a punch with some force and can now see how it has altered Mr Jevons’ life, not just physically, but in terms of a loss of confidence.”
He handed Smith an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, ordered him to undergo 12 months’ supervision and pay £2,000 compensation.