Belfast Telegraph

Amateur footballer who knocked player unconscious during match, escapes jail

By Paul Higgins

An amateur footballer who punched an opposing player during a match, knocking him unconscious, escaped jail today when his five month jail term was suspended for two years.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard how there was a melee during a match between defendant Jamie Turner's team Abbey Villa and Comber Star who injured party Paul Moore played for on 6 September last year.

Prosecuting lawyer Samuel Magee described how Mr Moore was trying to separate fighting players when 24-year-old Turner "approached him from the side while Mr Moore's back was turned" and punched him once to the side of the head, causing him to "fall heavily to the ground."

"He could not have seen the punch coming and was unable therefore, to defend himself from it," said the lawyer adding that Mr Moore, whose team were two up at the time, cannot remember being struck but does recall "lying on the side of the pitch waiting for an ambulance."

The victim, who was unconscious for a "few minutes," was admitted to hospital for two days and was treated for a cervical spinal cord neuro praxis, described by Mr Magee as "the least severe form of nerve injury."

In addition, Mr Moore sustained swelling and bruising to the right side of his head, fractures to the enamel of five teeth and soft tissue damage to his lower back.

"Treating doctors noted there should not be long term effects to his neck and lower back injuries however the long term effect of his significant brain injury is harder to predict," said the lawyer who also told the court that on medical advice, Mr Moore is no longer able to play football.

Arrested and interviewed 24-year-old Turner, from Bloomfield Link in Bangor, claimed he saw Mr Moore kick at one of his team mates as he lay on the ground and that he pushed his victim away when Mr Moore "came at him with fists clenched."

Mr Magee said however that neither allegation were accepted by the prosecution and that eventually, Turner had since apologised and commented "thinking about it now, I should not have lashed out."

Originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm, Turner later pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of inflicting actual bodily harm.

Defence barrister Conan area submitted that Turner had shown remorse for his actions which he said were "out of character" for the father-of-one who has a clear criminal record.

Sentencing Turner, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he was satisfied the "custody threshold" had been passed because of the long term consequences for Mr Moore and his unacceptable behaviour but that he saw "no merit" in sending him to jail given his clear criminal record and good work history.

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