Belfast Telegraph

Footballer avoids jail over assault on Elvis impersonator in nightclub

By Ed Carty

Footballer Anthony Stokes has avoided prison for headbutting an Elvis impersonator in a nightclub.

The Blackburn Rovers player paid his victim €30,000 for breaking his nose and two of his teeth but is facing a second potentially expensive payout as he is being sued.

Former car park attendant Anthony Bradley (53) was attacked by Stokes in the VIP section of what was then Buck Whaleys nightclub on Leeson Street in Dublin on June 8, 2013.

He is now taking a case for damages to Ireland's High Court over the incident.

Dressed in a suit and tie, 28-year-old Stokes did not speak during the hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, or as he left alone.

The father of two, who is awaiting the birth of a third child, apologised through a lawyer during the hour-long hearing. The court heard Stokes had been in Buck Whaleys with friends, one of whom was drunk and who twice spilled drink over Mr Bradley at about 3am in the morning.

Mr Bradley, who had only arrived two hours earlier and only had one pint in the club, spoke to the friend in a "friendly manner" about the spillage.

Within three or four seconds, Stokes had intervened and headbutted him, the court was told.

Parts of statements from members of staff were also read to the court, including one which said Stokes was escorted from the premises without further incident and had told an employee: "If someone puts it up to me I'm going to nut him."

Stokes rang the hostess of the nightclub the next day to apologise.

The former Celtic player is currently a striker for Rovers in the Sky Bet Championship.

Judge Patricia Ryan said she was taking into consideration "the seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances" of Stokes.

A victim impact statement was read to the court during the hearing.

Mr Bradley was headbutted across the bridge of his nose and suffered a deviated septum and two front teeth were broken, in what was described as a "nasty, cowardly attack". His medical bills have cost €13,500 over the last three-and-a-half years, the court heard.

He was off for eight months from his job as a car park attendant in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin following the incident and subsequently stopped working as he suffered physical and psychological effects.

Mr Bradley has also been diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition since the assault, which causes pain across his neck and shoulders.

He said he was bubbly and outgoing before the incident but is now on daily medication for anxiety, depression and loss of sleep and that he expects to need more dental work.

Judge Ryan said the €30,000 was not compensation but a practical expression of remorse and she also ordered Stokes, who is living in Blackburn, to sign a bond to be on good behaviour for two years.

Republic of Ireland international Stokes has no previous convictions.

The court heard Stokes regularly devoted time to meeting youngsters and supporting coaching classes.

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