Haydock man cleared of blame over RL ace attack

Sean Gleeson during his playing days for Wigan
Sean Gleeson during his playing days for Wigan
  • Rugby league ace Sean Gleeson was forced to retire after the attack
  • Judge ruled Gleeson started the scuffle
  • Blow which caused Gleeson’ career-ending injuries was struck in self-defence

A Haydock man who decked a rugby league star after he was subjected to an unprovoked attack at a nightclub has been told he was not to blame for sparking the violent incident.

Instead, Recorder Jeremy Lasker told Terrance Riley the cause of the trouble was ex-Wigan Warriors centre, Sean Gleeson.

Ex-Warriors rugby league player Sean Gleeson after an attack on King Street

Ex-Warriors rugby league player Sean Gleeson after an attack on King Street

Riley had been enjoyed a night out celebrating his brother’s birthday when he was confronted by Gleeson, cousin of former Saint Martin Gleeson.

The pair ended up scuffling but Gleeson alone was thrown out of the Ibiza nightclub, which is in Wigan’s notorious King Street district.

But when, 15 minutes later, Riley and his pals decided to leave the club, they found Gleeson outside and he again started a confrontation.

This time he and Riley became embroiled in a fight, trading several blows, but it was the Haydock man who knocked over the rugby league ace.

In my view the incident was provoked and initiated by Sean Gleeson

Recorder Jeremy Lasker

Gleeson, who had by this point ripped off his shirt, went tearing over to one of Riley’s pals, Lee Jones.

Jones, fearing he was about to be attacked, felled Gleeson with what the RL ace later described as a “side-winder” knocking him to ground and causing what would later be revealed as career-ending injuries.

Gleeson suffered a fractured cheek bone and was left partly blind in his right eye following the violence.

Jones, whose “side-winder” punch is believed to have caused the damage, was this week cleared of affray while Riley, who had exchanged blows with the player, was given a community sentence after previously admitting the same charge.

And Recorder Lasker, the judge who heard Jones’s trial, told Liverpool Crown Court: “In my view the incident was provoked and initiated by Sean Gleeson.”

The life-changing injuries put an end to Gleeson’s professional rugby career.

He had been a rising star at Wigan Warriors but had only played a handful of games for his new side, Hull Kingston Rovers, when disaster struck.

The hearing was told that 25-year-old Riley had gone into Wigan to celebrate his brother’s birthday with friends and they all ended up in the Ibiza club in King Street.

Inside the premises there was an incident between former Wigan Warrior Sean Gleeson, who was holding a bottle, and Gleeson was ejected by the bouncers.

About 15 minutes later at about 4am Riley, co-accuse Jones and their friends decided to leave but when they went outside Gleeson was still there abusively remonstrating with the door staff.

CCTV footage showed that on the steps there was a confrontation which quickly turned to violence between Riley and Gleeson.

“The CCTV shows the two of you effectively grappling with each other and going into the middle of the road and both swinging punches at each other,” said the judge.

“Gleeson went to the floor and if you had walked away then I do not suppose you would be here today but the CCTV shows while he was on the floor you took the opportunity to strike him once or twice.

“You took off, he got to his feet and then two or three seconds later he was struck a heavy blow by Jones. That blow was thrown by him in lawful self-defence,” said Recorder Lasker.

He told Riley that he had not gone out that night looking for trouble “but unluckily trouble found you.”

He added that Riley, who has no convictions for violence, was not responsible for Gleeson’s injuries or initiating violence.

“You are however guilty of acting in a way that you should not have done having been drinking.

“Brawling in the street in the early hours of the morning with the public walking past is something the courts will not tolerate.”

He imposed a 12-month community order and also ordered him to carry out 100 hours unpaid work.

Martin Walsh, defending, said that the incident between Gleeson and Riley had been relatively short-lived.

“It had not caused serious injury and Gleeson had “brought this on himself.”

Riley, of Harrison Drive, Haydock, had pleaded guilty to affray on March 1 last year.

Jones, 22, of Alder Avenue, Ashton-in-Makerfield, denied that offence and a jury accepted that he had acted in self-defence. He broke down in tears after being acquitted.

He had told the jury that after the incident between Gleeson and his friend, Gleeson, who was by then bare chested, came towards him with his fists clenched.

He said he was scared and fearing that he was about to be attacked he punched him to the side of the face once.

He accepted that his blow was probably the one that caused the damage to his sight.

Gleeson, whose career had also involved playing for the Widnes, Salford and Wakefield teams, denied that he had been the troublemaker that night and said the attacks on him were unprovoked.

He had to undergo surgery for his injuries including metal plates and mesh inserted into his cheek bone.

“He told how it had ended his career and said if he received further blows to that area “it could kill me.”

He refuted suggestions by defence barrister Brian McKenna that he was telling lies.