Derry City star Rory Patterson avoids prison after biting man's face during drunken fight outside bar
A former Northern Ireland footballer has been given a suspended prison sentence after biting a man on the face during a row outside a bar.
Derry City striker Rory Patterson was yesterday given a nine- month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to his victim.
Patterson (29), from the Meadowview area of Londonderry, pleaded guilty to a charge of violent assault in Shipquay Street on December 10 last year.
CCTV footage of Patterson biting the man on the face was played in the Magistrates Court. It showed the professional footballer involved in an altercation with three men and a woman outside the bar. Patterson had arrived at the bar minutes earlier in the company of his girlfriend.
Patterson's lawyer told the court that the footballer realised that it was unacceptable to bite anyone in the face whatever the circumstances, whatever the provocation.
In mitigation, the barrister said the victim "had been shouting things at the defendant about his football".
"He is well-known in the city through his football. The injured party had kissed the defendant's girlfriend twice on the cheek," he said. "There was a perseverance by the injured party to pursue something with the defendant and the defendant reacted wrongly.
"He is a professional footballer who has represented his country at an international level and he is well respected by his fellow professionals.
"He carries out youth work on a voluntary basis. A stigma is now attached to him because of what he did to this man in Shipquay Street and he will have to live with that," the barrister added.
The Deputy District Judge was told that Patterson has a daughter who lives in England and that he provides financial support for her. He is a part-time semi-professional footballer with Derry City and he is paid 40 weeks of the year.
Judge John Connolly described the assault as a nasty incident.
"Hopefully the injured party has been left with not too visible a scar on his face. I accept it was not a premeditated offence, and it was a case of when the drink is in the wit is out," he said.
Rory Patterson is a former Northern Ireland international footballer who has played with clubs in England and on both sides of the border. He made 15 appearances for Rochdale, then a Division Three side, between 2002 and 2004 and later played for several non-league sides. In 2009 he moved back to Northern Ireland to join Coleraine where he had a successful one season spell, scoring 30 goals. He has had spells with Glentoran, Plymouth Argyle, Linfield and Derry City.